Food & Drink

Deep-Fried Oysters

Chef Linton Hopkins’ recipe for lightly coated oysters fried to a crisp

photo: Peter Frank Edwards


“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

 

You’ve Fried Them. Now What?
Two more recipes from Chef Hopkins

1) Fried Oyster Po’boys I fell in love with these when I was a cook in New Orleans, and I serve them on my lunch menu with a few changes. We use a Pullman white loaf, cut horizontally to get two large slices. Butter both sides of the bread and griddle to a golden brown. Lay out both slices and spread mayonnaise on one side of each piece. Top the bottom half with fresh chopped romaine and sliced tomatoes. Add fried oysters and close with the second slice of toast (mayonnaise side down). Eat with hot sauce and cold root beer.

2) Fried Oysters with Simple Greens, Buttermilk Dressing, and Bacon This recipe combines many items I love about the South: fried oysters, buttermilk, bacon, and local lettuces. I mix about a half cup of good-quality mayonnaise with a quarter cup of buttermilk, a few dashes of red wine vinegar and hot sauce, a lot of fresh black pepper, and a dash of salt. I cut some bacon into a large dice and sauté it in an iron skillet until chewy/crispy. I clean the freshest lettuces I can find. I place the fried oysters on a plate in the shape of a circle, put the greens into the middle of that circle, sprinkle with the bacon, and dress with my spicy, creamy sauce.

—As told to Francine Maroukian


Ingredients

  • Oysters

    • 1 pint Southern oysters (usually 20 to 30, preferably no larger than a half dollar), shucked and stored in their own liquor

  • Breading Ingredients

    • 1 pint buttermilk

    • 1 dry pint cornmeal (about 2 1/3 cups); I get a crisp crust by using Anson Mills Antebellum fine yellow cornmeal

    • 1 dry pint all-purpose flour (about 2 1/3 cups)

    • 1 tbsp. Creole seasoning

    • 1 tsp. kosher salt

  • Rémoulade

    • 1 cup mayonnaise (preferably homemade)

    • 1/2 cup Creole mustard (like Zatarain's)

    • 2 tbsp. hot sauce (preferably Louisiana style, like Crystal or Trappey's)

    • 1 tbsp. honey

    • 1 tsp. finely chopped garlic

    • 1/8 tsp. cayenne

    • 1/2 tsp. filé powder

    • 1/4 cup minced green onion


Preparation

  1. Reserve buttermilk in separate container.

  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until well blended.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. For the rémoulade:

    Place ingredients in mixing bowl and whisk until well combined. Transfer to storage container, cover, and refrigerate for up to one week.

Recipe from chef Linton Hopkins of Holeman & Finch Public House in Atlanta, Georgia

The Chef's Twist

Hopkins uses buttermilk rather than beaten eggs under the breading. The tangy element plays off the briny oyster, and the buttermilk has just the right thickness to bind the flour/cornmeal and create a crisp coating without overpowering the oyster.


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