How to Make Deep Fried Oysters

Dredged in a crispy cornmeal batter, these deep fried oysters are heavenly to dunk in a remoulade sauce before devouring.

One of my readers recently wrote to me asking if I had a recipe for fried oysters on this site. Shockingly, I didn’t. I mean, I’ve done grilled oysters, oysters on the half shell, and oyster stew — but no fried oysters. I needed to remedy the situation quickly and I did — Deep Fried Oysters with Remoulade.

Being from Virginia (and a stones throw to the Chesapeake Bay), I was practically raised on oysters. Deep fried oysters are a “thing” for lunch or dinner at most diners and lunch counters near the water — especially in the more rural areas in and around the Eastern Shore. Some of the best in the area come from the Rappahannock River Oyster Company.

Growing up, we only ate oysters from September through April (months with the letter “R” in them). That meant oysters were off-limits from May through August. I admit I’ve stuck to this philosophy my whole life, but I was curious about the reason behind the rule.

Safety:
Food storage and handling wasn’t always what it is now. If live oysters sat out on a dock for any amount of time during the hot summer months — well you can imagine the petri dish of food-bourne illnesses that could conjure.

Red Tides are more prominent during the summer months and they contain an algae which can be toxic to humans. Realistically, this is all I needed to hear…

Logistics:
The summer months are the breeding season for oysters. Conventional wisdom dictates that we give the oysters a chance to spawn — so there would be oysters to harvest later. And come on… let ’em have their fun.

Taste:
To prepare for spawning, oysters convert glycogen stores to gamete (eggs and sperm) which leaves the oysters soft, flabby and funky. Not what you look for in an oyster.

Also, oysters just taste better from colder waters. Some oystermen recommend paying attention to the frost line across the US for a good gauge of where the tastiest oysters might be at any given time of year.

For this recipe, I contacted my friend, Chef and Angler (though, I’m not certain that’s the order he prefers) Joe Cascio and asked him to share one of his most popular fried oyster recipes from his restaurants, Square One Fish Company and Joe’s Riverside Grille. He happily obliged.

His recipe starts with a standard flour-egg-cornmeal dredge. I like this method because a cornmeal crust will stay crispier longer than a standard batter and it adds a great crunch. Plus, I always have a few packages of cornmeal in my pantry.

How To Test If The Oil Is Hot Enough To Fry:
Thermometer: This is the most sure-fire way to test your oil’s temperature. The ideal range here is between 350°–375°F. Both instant-read and candy thermometers are going to give you the reading you’re looking for – just make sure they can handle the high temperatures.
Batter Method: If the dish you’re frying is coated with some sort of batter, a great way to test the oil is to drop a bit of the batter into the oil. If there isn’t any bubbling, then the oil isn’t ready. If it’s furiously bubbling and there is smoke, it’s too hot. {Pro-Tip: If you have little nibblets of the flour, egg, cornmeal dredge stuck to your fingers, save a few nuggets and drop those into the hot oil… if it boils and rises to the surface, it’s ready.}
Wooden Spoon Method: This is pretty ingenious… Dip the handle-end of a wooden spoon into the hot oil. If it’s ready for frying it will bubble around the handle.
Rice Method: Pick up a grain of rice and drop it into your hot oil. If the rice surfaces and starts to bubble, your oil is hovering around 360°F, perfect for frying.

I consider fried oysters to be akin to comfort food and they go great with an icy cold beer.

Click here for the remoulade sauce that we think must be served with these fried oysters.

How to Make Deep Fried Oysters
 
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
 
Author:
Recipe Type: Appetizer
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
For The Oysters:
  • 12 large oysters shucked
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 large eggs whipped
  • 2 tablespoons half and half
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 3 cups peanut oil for frying
  • For The Remoulade:
  • Click the link above for the recipe.
Instructions
Make the Remoulade:
  1. Click the link above for the recipe.
For The Oysters:
  1. Set up a dredging station with 3 shallow bowls. The first bowl is flour, salt and pepper, mixed together to combine. 2nd bowl is whipped eggs. 3rd bowl is cornmeal.
  2. Place several layers of paper towels on a baking sheet and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a fryer or dutch oven to 350-375°. Test oil by dropping a grain of rice into the oil. If it immediately comes to the surface and starts to cook, it's perfect.
  4. Pat oysters lightly with a paper towel. Dip one oyster into the flour mixture to lightly coat, transfer to the eggs and coat, then dip in cornmeal. Transfer the oysters to the hot skillet, cooking no more than 3-4 at a time. Cook for 2-3 minutes, flipping halfway through. Transfer oysters to the prepared pan and continue with the rest of the batch.
  5. Serve oysters with the remoulade sauce.

 

Lisa Lotts

Lisa is a South Florida based food blogger who derives inspiration from a diverse family food-background, which includes southern comfort foods, traditional French and Caribbean cuisine. On her blog, Garlic and Zest, she explores fresh, innovative flavors and the inexorable link between food and family. Her approachable fare tastes like home.

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