Chef Linton Hopkins' recipe for lightly coated oysters fried to a crisp
"I had just moved to New Orleans to begin my externship at Mr. B’s Bistro. I had never lived in New Orleans before and somehow got it into my head to discover the best po’boys in the city. I remember the first joint I went to—Domilise’s—on the advice of a friend. It was in Uptown, and in the middle of a neighborhood. Women were wearing dresses and flip-flops and frying oysters right where you walked in. I ordered an oyster po’boy with rémoulade and a root beer. I watched the ladies lightly coat the oysters and fry them crisp. It looked so simple (I have found out through years of cooking that it is). The oysters were golden brown with a thin crunchy coating sitting on rémoulade and crusty bread. I was in heaven. Every time I fry and serve oysters, part of me always goes back to that day." —Linton Hopkins, Holeman & Finch Public House, Atlanta, Georgia
1 pint Southern oysters (usually 20 to 30, preferably no larger than a half dollar), shucked and stored in their own liquor
1 pint buttermilk 1 dry pint cornmeal (about 2¹/³ cups); I get a crisp crust by using Anson Mills Antebellum fine yellow cornmeal
1 dry pint all-purpose flour (about 2¹/³ cups)
1 tbsp. Creole seasoning
1 tsp. kosher salt
Reserve buttermilk in separate container. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until well blended. Remove oysters from liquor, draining excess so oysters are still wet but not dripping. Place all of the oysters in buttermilk. One at a time, remove each oyster from the buttermilk, allowing the excess to drip back into the container. Toss to coat all sides in the breading (gently press the breading onto the oyster to help it adhere). Transfer to waxed-paper-lined plate or cookie sheet until oysters are all breaded.
In a heavy stockpot with high sides fitted with a deep-frying (or candy) thermometer, bring at least two inches of peanut oil to 375ºF.
Keeping the heat at a steady 375ºF and working in batches of six, fry the oysters until they are golden brown and just cooked through, about 90 seconds. (The oysters will curl slightly when they are done.) Using a slotted spoon, remove oysters and drain on brown-paper-bag-lined plate. Serve immediately with a side of rémoulade (next page).