Fried Oysters are one of The Goddess’s indulgences. They are the perfect culinary storm. They are rich. They are crispy on the outside and almost creamy on the interior. They are a thing of beauty. They are also a wonderful childhood memory. Fried Oysters were the Christmas Eve dinner in my family. My parents were married in 1930. Who knew there would be a depression? But oysters, by the gallon, shucked and swimming in their “liquor” were not expensive, if you can believe it. So they bought a gallon. My mother would go through the entire gallon and pick out the largest oysters for frying. She would toss the smaller ones back into the can with the liqueur and Oyster Stew was our New Year’s Eve dinner! You didn’t waste anything in my childhood. So not only is this a wonderful memory, but it’s a holiday memory, too. I think those memories are even more special. In the afternoon of Christmas Eve, my mother would bread the oysters. She used very finely crushed saltines, which seems to perfectly compliment the oyster. They would rest on cookies sheets in the very cold back porch until they would be deep-fried in her huge cast iron skillet. And she fried everything in lard, which she rendered herself (the aroma of lard rendering is not a great memory!). Later, she switched to oil, but I don’t think the flavor was quite as good. She would make a great leafy green salad, baked potatoes and then, the oysters, just as they came out of the frying pan. Salt and pepper them and then, dig in! So when I saw some really nice sized shucked oysters doing the backstroke in their liquor, the bought a half pound. I decided to fixed them for breakfast. I used buttermilk bath, which she used. The acid is a nice foil to the richness of the oyster. I dredged them in the dredge mixture from Soft-Shelled Crabs with Meyer Lemon and Browned Butter Sauce. I prefer this dredge because it’s a very light coating and it remains crispy. My mother used flour, but I wanted these to be gluten-free and this is the dredge I use for almost everything. I changed the recipe by omitting all the spices and adding 1 teaspoon of South Shore Seasoning per cup of dredge mixture. You could use Old Bay in a pinch, but I really do prefer the South Shore. If gluten isn’t an issue, I would use 1/2 of the dredge, and 1/2 very finely crushed saltines or cracker meal. And just as she did, I dredged them and let them stand for about 10 minutes. I was hungry, okay? When you fry them, the oil (no, I didn’t use lard…I save that for pie pastry) needs to be quite hot, about 350°F or slightly hotter. Gently slide them into the oil, you’ll need about 1/4-inch in a pan. Don’t crowd them or they will stick together and won’t be crispy. Fry for about 30 seconds, then gently turn them over. Fry another 30-45 seconds, then remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Reheat the oil and fry the next batch until you’ve fried all the oyster. If you frying oyster more oysters than I did, you might want to use 2 skillets.
I decided to make a Po’ Boy sandwich…you know, it was breakfast, after all. Besides, I had these great Challah rolls and they were perfect. I did add some sliced tomatoes. It was delicious. I added some Creamy Horseradish, Roasted Garlic and Honey Sauce to the bottom of the bun. I didn’t use much, as I really wanted to taste the oysters. It was good. Horseradish is nice with shellfish. It was a good breakfast. Very good and it brought back wonderful memories, too. And, I have to admit that I did have some of the fried oysters just as they were, crispy and creamy inside. Make these and enjoy them for any meal, but you must make them. They are a quick and delicious meal and make a great little crispy, tidbit on you holiday appetizer table. Maybe you want to start a Christmas Eve dinner at your house. Yes, and they make a delicious memory, too.