Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fried oysters with a chipotle-lime dipping sauce

fried oysters

I have to admit that I’m not in love with raw oysters. Nope, if I’m going to eat an oyster, I prefer that it be fried.

It all began when I was seven. My family and I were on a trip to New Orleans, and the minute we pulled into town, my dad dragged us to an oyster bar. We lived in Dallas where fresh oysters weren’t always available, and as my dad loves these bivalves—he insisted that eating oysters would be our first order of business.

(Actually, this is a lie—our first order of business was a big bag of beignets and cups of chicory coffee as we waited in the early-morning line for King Tut tickets. But later that day, we did indeed go get oysters.)



In any case, I’d never seen an oyster before, so when my dad’s icy tray arrived, I said, “What is that?” The shell’s pink and white interior was appealing, but the slick blob sitting inside was a bit strange. I was game to try it, however, so I watched my dad dip the shell into his mouth and slurp out the meat. I followed his lead, and felt the oyster slide down my throat. It was creamy and cold, and tasted a little bit like the sea.

Dad says that I made a funny face after I ate the oyster, but I don’t recall it being that unpleasant. Though, as I’d been raised on a steady diet of rice and beans my whole life, I wasn’t convinced eating them was for me. So when dad offered me another, I politely declined.

As I was inducted into eating oysters on the half-shell at such a young age, you’d think that I’d be an old pro at it. But I can count on only two hands the number of times I’ve eaten raw oysters in the following years. Fortunately, however, these few times have been incredible eating experiences.

fried oysters

For instance, the night before a dear friend got married in California, her uncle—who’s a chef—invited a bunch of us to his hotel room, where he shucked and shared oysters that had been harvested outside San Francisco that morning. We topped the oysters with homemade salsas and washed them down with cold, salty beers. Then there was one crisp October afternoon in Paris, where my friends and I combined freshly shucked Breton oysters with squirts of lemon and glasses of dry white wine. But even though most of the raw oysters I've eaten have been memorable, I’m still not convinced that I love them, as most of the time I’d still rather have them battered and fried.

I realize that preferring fried oysters over raw oysters may make me sound like a rube, but when it’s done well, a freshly fried oyster is a thing to savor. The crunchy coating is a welcome contrast to the soft, juicy oyster meat inside. And often, fried oysters are so succulent that no dipping sauce is even necessary.

There are many ways to make fried oysters. I keep mine relatively simple, though I do like to coat them in a combination of both crushed saltines and cornmeal, which I think gives them an excellent texture and flavor. I also like to dip them into chipotle-lime dipping sauce, though any hot sauce or tartar sauce would work, too. And you can serve these fried oysters alone, with fries, wrapped in a tortilla, or nestled into a warm baguette for a po-boy sandwich.

fried oysters

My dad will probably be disappointed by this admission, but there is hope! This weekend, I’m headed to Galveston for the Foodways Texas symposium on Gulf seafood, where I’ll be eating local oysters from the bay. I look forward to this, and perhaps will grow to appreciate raw oysters even more. But in the meantime, please pass me the fried oysters instead.

Fried oysters with chipotle-lime dipping sauce

Ingredients for the fried oysters:
1 pint shucked oysters
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup finely crushed saltines
1/2 cup cornmeal
Salt, black pepper and cayenne to taste
Oil for frying
Sliced limes for serving

Method:
Drain the oysters, reserving 1/4 cup of the liquid. Pat the oysters dry.

In a bowl, mix together the egg, buttermilk and reserved oyster liquid. In another bowl or a plate, stir together the crushed saltines and the cornmeal. Add to both the egg mixture and the breading mixture a sprinkle of salt, black pepper and cayenne, to taste.

In batches, dip the oysters into the breading, then into the eggs and then back into the breading again. Place breaded oysters on a large plate or sheet. Repeat until all the oysters are coated.

In a large, heavy skillet heat 1/2 inch of oil on medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees. Cook the oysters for 2 to 3 minutes, turning once, until the fried oysters are light brown. Depending on the size of your skillet, you will probably have to do in several batches. Drain on paper towels. Serve with chipotle-lime dipping sauce and sliced limes (recipe follows).

Yield: 4 servings

Chipotle-lime dipping sauce

Ingredients for the chipotle-lime dipping sauce:
1/2 or 1 (depending on how hot you like it) canned chipotle in adobo, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce from the chipotle can
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon lime juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon lime juice
Salt to taste

Method:
Mix together the finely chopped chipotle, adobo sauce, mayonnaise, cilantro lime juice, and cumin. Taste and add salt, and adjust seasonings.

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41 comments:

The Big Guy said...

Now you're talking...
I love Ostreidae any way I can get them...
I just might go get a 40lb bag this weekend!

Mind if I post one of your pics and a link back to this post on my 'blog?

Take care-

TBG
www.listen2unclejay.com

Jessica said...

Man, those look SO good right now. I'm heading to New Orleans in a few weeks with my boys to visit family. I do believe I'll be gettin' me some fried oysters! OR/AND, maybe I'll make some of my own this weekend. Win-win.

Chez Loulou said...

My all time favorite way to eat oysters!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Jay--No problem. Thanks for asking and enjoy your oysters!

Jessica--Win-win indeed! Enjoy your trip to New Orleans!

Chez Lou Lou--Mine, too!

Anna said...

Honestly, I can't say I would ever be a fan of eating oysters in any fashion (something about an in depth zoology lab series dissecting them.) BUT - the dipping sauce? Looks like I could eat it with a spoon!

More bivalves for the rest of you. :)

Little Black Car said...

I'm pretty convinced that raw oysters are the culinary equivalent of loogies. No. Thank. You. Just because everyone thinks it's the urbane thing to do doesn't mean it actually tastes all that great. Perhaps I'm genetically unable to taste them? I don't know. I've never seen the point.

I'd far rather have them fried.

physicschick said...

I'm with you, Lisa. Fried is where it's at! I think I'm going to have to run to Aunt Margie's on 61st St and get some to fry up. That's one of the things I love most about living near Galveston : the availability of fresh seafood! Thanks for the heads up on this weekend's food event. I'm going to check it out, too. BTW a Pygmy adult sperm whale was found beached on the West End of the island this morning. Rescue is underway. What an uncommon thing for us. Enjoy your weekend!

Kris @ everywhereorange.com said...

it's on. i think i am going to put this chipotle lime sauce on everything!!

Heather Laurel said...

I'm not sure if I can stomach this recipe for a while. I'm sure I'd eat them if someone made them for me, but if I see another oyster out of the shell I might be sick...

(Unlike you I love(d) oysters. That is until I decided to enter an Oyster eating competition on Long Island last fall... 2 minutes, 40 seconds later...and 5 1/2 dozen oysters in my belly... well, yeah.)

I wonder if that sauce would be any good with fried pickles?

Kelly @ Evil Shenanigans said...

There is nothing about this dish I do not like! The dipping sauce, however, sounds dreamy!

Tommy said...

I hear you on the raw oyster thing. I mean someone is always selling you on just how orgasmic raw oysters can be and you're supposed to agree and slurp alongside joyously. I'll eat raw oysters, but like you, I prefer them fried. Have fun in Galveston and hopefully you'll report back the local seafood industry is going to be OK.

-Your Friendly Neighborhood Dentonista said...

@Little Black Car - I wonde rif you've only had gulf oysters? They're nowhere near as flavorful as cold water oysters. You really can taste the difference, and they are delicious raw.

Denise | Chez Danisse said...

I love raw oysters, but your photographs might convert me to fried.

Laura from WhiteFluffyIcing said...

Fantastic post! See you this weekend at the FTX Symposium...

p.s. Can I call dibs on your half dozen oysters at the appellation tasting?

Steve said...

Lisa,
I'm with you. This is the best way to enjoy oysters. Had to laugh - haven't heard the word "rube" since I left Oklahoma. One doesn't hear that in NY. Thanks for the smile.
Steve
http://www.myfavoriteflavours.com

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anna--I recommend that you do eat it with a spoon, I certainly have

Little Black Car--Ha! They're wonderful fried.

Physicschick--I'm so excited to be in Galveston this weekend. I hope the whale is okay.

Kris--It's good on just about anything!

Heather--Whoa! That's a lot of oysters! And the sauce would be terrific on fried pickles!

Tommy--I'll give a full report.

Dentonista--A taste test is in order!

Denise--I'm a firm believer that almost everything tastes great fried.

Laura--Can't wait to meet you!

Steve--It's a good word, I should use it more often!

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

I am with you. Fried please. Although I have fantasies of being glamorous enough to enjoy them raw. Yours look great!

Mary Jo said...

These look so good I can almost taste them! I'm with you - fried over raw! Have fun and eat yourself silly at Galveston.

Shelbyrlff said...

Thank you thank you thank you!!

I wish I had time to go to the Symposium in Galveston this weekend! That looks amazing, if you hear of anymore delicious things like that you should post it for us Texans still at home and live vicariously through us!

Katie@Cozydelicious said...

I'm with you on raw oysters, but fried oysters are an idea I can get behind! They look awesome and so does your sauce. Yum!

Traci said...

LOL Little Black Car. I couldn't agree more. But, come to think of it, I'm not much of an oyster fan no matter how they're prepared. However, with a dipping sauce like this, that consists of ingredients straight from the gods, I'm pretty sure it could make anything taste good. I think I will try it with shrimp. ~Thanks for another great recipe, Lisa!~

urnotfromtx said...

My daddy has been trying to get me to eat oysters my whole life. I can't understand why when there are so many delicious SHRIMP! Especially fried. That sauce sounds like it would be delicious on Fried Shrimp. Where are you staying in Galveston? People always complain that it doesn't compare to fancier beaches...but I don't care. I love that place!

Jennie said...

Oh God, WANT! My first visit to N'awlins was repleat with a fried oyster po' boy, pure heaven, and have been dying to recreate it in my Danish kitchen. Won't wait much longer after seeing this!

Also, oysters "gratin" in the oven are hot stuff too! Much preferred to raw.

Jenn from Much to My Delight said...

I swear I could have written this post! I grew up in Galveston, and clearly remember sitting at a bar with my dad as he tried ( forced is more accurate) to get me to eat a platter of raw oysters. I hated them immediately, and still do. But give me a fried oyster and I'm a happy gal. That chipotle dipping sauce must be fantastic with fried oysters!

Where do you buy fresh oysters in NYC? There was a fish market in my neighborhood until recently, and now I'm always at a loss for fresh, affordable seafood sources.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Miss Meat and Potatoes--I know! It does seem glamorous--maybe someday.

Mary Jo--There will be lots of eating myself silly this weekend, you can be sure!

Shelbyriff--You're very welcome! And will do.

Katie--Frying food always makes it taste good. And yep, that sauce is wonderful!

Traci-The sauce would be excellent with shrimp!

Urnotfromtx--I love Galveston, too. So many fond memories of that island! And the sauce would be terrific on fried shrimp.

Jennie--I'll have to try oysters gratin--sounds great!

Jenn--Ha! I reckon many of us were introduced to oysters in a similar fashion. I buy my shucked oysters at The Lobster Place in Chelsea Market. Eataly and Whole Foods have them, too. And if they're not shucked, they'll do the shucking for you. You can also buy them in Chinatown.

Biz said...

The second job I had in high school was in a restaurant - the chef insisted we taste EVERYTHING on the menu to describe it to the customers, and that included fresh oysters.

I refused and refused, until one day, the chef came at me with a tiny Olympian oyster and basically shoved it in my mouth - it was (and still is!) the most disgusting thing I've ever eaten.

My husband however, loves them! He would love fried oysters too - just one more reason to use our deep fryer!

Have a great weekend!

Janus said...

The dipping sauce sounds good. I think I would drop the mayonnaise, and instead use softened cream cheese to make a spread for crackers.

Rebecca said...

Forget raw oysters (love them) and forget fried (love them too). Get yourself to Gilhooley's in San Leon for some Oyster's Gilhooley - big plump oysters in the half shell topped with (garlic?) butter and parmesan and and run under the broiler just long enough to melt the butter and crisp the parmesan. OMG! Oyster heaven! You can also get them topped with shrimp. Yeah, it's a dive and yeah, it's a drive, but oh so worth it!

Lindie said...

Men still think oysters are good for them. It's a myth I think. I have only had oysters rockefeller and would not eat a raw oyster or even a canned one. Some joke about it when I was about 20 turned me off. (little black car!) I love love sashimi so it's not that it is raw that bothers me. Have fun!

German said...

Thank you for the recipe, I really I like raw oysters but only if get them from a fresh fish market like in Celta de Vigo but in home I like cook the oyster just for prevent

http://kitchenvoyage.blogspot.com/

Sammie said...

The thought of a raw oyster makes me cringe but your fried oysters look delicious!

Monique said...

Lisa - you're after my heart. There's nothing better than an oyster be it raw, fried, baked or broiled. I have to say my favorite is still raw. I'm definitely part of the minority here, but I hope you find a deeper love for raw oysters. Enjoy!

Nawlins to the bone. said...

HA HA HA! Just get some Zatarains seasoned fish fry, make a batter with a little water and egg, dredge in that first then into the dry fish fry!Fry until they float!
Then use LEMON! LIME and oysters???? Dipping sauce=
Ketchup,Prepared horseradish,Lemon juice,Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce.
Done and done. Quick and easy!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Biz--What a story! I can't believe the chef did that to you.

janus--I like that idea!

Rebecca--At the Foodways Texas symposium last weekend, a man named Gator came and told us all sorts of colorful stories about Gilhooley's and San Leon. Those oysters do sound like heaven!

Lindie--I wonder if anyone's ever scientifically proven that theory.

German--Absolutely--the must be fresh to be enjoyable.

Sammie--Can't go wrong with anything fried!

Monique--Actually, this past weekend at the symposium I ate my weight in raw oysters and found them gooood!

Nawlins--I like that tip--"fry until they float." Lemon's good, but I'm a Texan and we eat limes with everything! Ha!

Maria @ Scandi Foodie said...

I'm with you, not a big fan of raw oysters, but I could definitely give these a go!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Maria--Everything's good when it's fried!

Austin19 said...

It was pretty crazy, the day you posted this recipe I went to Woodrows in Houston and they had a special on as many oysters as you could eat, raw, fried, it was awesome. So I picked up a a bushel of fat oysters from louisiana foods and went over to a friends house where he already had supplied the shiner 102. Oh and the chipolte mayonnaise was perfect, can't wait to use it on a BLT.

tom | tall clover farm said...

I believe I'll have to secure some Willapa oysters (local WA state), and then make some of these gems, and maybe save some for a Po' boy.

Thanks for sharing this recipe!

david said...

I made these last night and I must say, Tex, you did again. Excellent. I did fire the sauce up with an additional pepper....perfect. Thanks again. David

Chris3610_Houston said...

Broiled is the way to go! Have you ever made the trip out to Gilhooley's in San Leon when in Houston? They slather them in butter and parm then throw them on the grill... Can also add shrimp- Perfection either way! This sauce looks great- will give it a go next time we fry up seafood!

Dreighton said...

Biloxi late 1950s a bushel in a burlap bag cost a dollar - high school friends were dredging them from skiffs.

People next door were old South, my hunting buddies and made the best home brew...

Among my best memories - home brew and shuck'em ourselves oysters.

Modern day tragedies - I have forgotten how to pick crabs and how to shuck crabs, but I am accomplished at picking crawfish and shrimp.

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