“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