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Any good kitchen should be stocked up in oysters, shouldn’t they? - Michael Fassbender
Contrary to the attestation by William Shakespeare that music was the food of love and despite the myth that chocolate powers Cupid’s arrows, the real food of love and the aphrodisiac that has melted almost as many hearts as there are stars in the sky, is the humble oyster.
Our history with oysters predates the evolutionary appearance of homo sapiens and Cro-Magnons, as they were a staple part of the diet of modern humanity’s ancestors, the neanderthal, while they were still living in caves.
Our dietary relationships with oysters predates written and verbal communication and we were eating this ocean-born delicacy before we could even speak to each other.
Paleoanthropologists, the scientists who study the history of human development, have found evidence in a South African cave that shows that people were catching and eating oysters around one hundred and sixty-four thousand years ago.
That means that as a species, we’ve dedicated more of our time on Earth to the pursuit of eating oysters than we have to literature, art, music, and science combined.
Humanity is more than a little bit obsessed with oysters, and in the last one hundred and fifty millennia, we’ve discovered and forgotten thousands of different ways to eat this shellfish delicacy.
Popular oyster-centric wisdom would have us all believe that the best way we’ve found to eat oysters in the multiple centuries since the first hominid cracked open and ate the first oyster, is raw with a little lemon and hot sauce.
And, while we’re forced to agree that it is indeed a mighty fine way to eat oysters, it isn’t the best way to eat them.
No, the best way to prepare and eat oysters is to fry them.
Why? Because sometimes, the consistency of oysters, and the way they feel in your mouth when they’re not covered in batter and given a little crunch and flavor, can be slightly off-putting.
To make sure that the oyster is appreciated on the multiple, taste-filled levels that it should be, you need to give it a hand to cross the finishing line. And the best, and easiest way to do that, is by frying them.
There are almost as many recipes for frying, and ways to fry oysters as there are varieties of this shellfish favorite, but we’re going to share our go-to method for serving up a delicious plate of oysters because the best things in life should be enjoyed by as many people as possible.
And as we’ve never really been any good at keeping a secret, it’s probably better that we don’t try and just tell you all about the greatest way to cook and eat oysters that we’ve ever stumbled across.
The Best Way To Fry Oysters… Ever.
The ingredients are simple. You just need two dozen (or twenty-four if you prefer to do things the same numerological way as we do) fresh oysters, a half cup of cornmeal, two cups each of canola oil (you’ll be frying them in this), and flour, one cup of cracker meal, two teaspoons of chili powder, a little sea salt, and some good old Louisiana hot sauce
Open the oysters with a knife by placing the blade in the seam, or join of the shell, slide it towards the hinged part of the shell while gently twisting the knife, and place the opened oyster on your kitchen counter.
Don’t remove the oyster from the lower half of the shell, leave it in there for how.
Repeat the process for the other twenty-three oysters, and when you’re finished, place all of the oysters in their half shells in a large bowl and cover them with water.
Put the bowl to one side, and leave the oysters in the water for four hours. This will ensure that any sand, grit, or extraneous pieces of the shell should be cleaned off the oysters before you start cooking them.
While the oysters are soaking, mix the cornmeal, flour, cracker meal, and chili powder (it’s okay if you don’t want to use the chili powder, it’s a taste thing, we get it and we totally understand) together in a bowl and let it stand.
After the oysters have finished soaking, take them out of the bowl, shuck them (remove them from the bottom half of their shells by using a knife to sever the connecting tissue), rinse them in cold water and then dip them in the flour and cornmeal mix, making sure that both sides of each oyster are coated.
Put the oysters in your refrigerator for fifteen minutes to chill and make sure that the cornmeal and flour sticks to each and every single one of them.
Pour the oil into a pan, put it on your stove, and turn the burner that the pan is on up to three hundred and fifty degrees.
Place some paper towels on a plate, and leave the plate and on the kitchen counter.
Take the oysters out of your refrigerator and when the oil is hot, bubbling, and ready, drop the oysters into the oil and let them fry for around three minutes or so.
When they’ve finished frying, turn off the burner and remove the oysters using a skimmer spoon and place them on the plate that you prepared earlier.
The paper towels on the plate will quickly absorb any excess oil that drains off your fried oysters. Season the oysters with some sea salt, and add a little hot sauce, and they’re ready to eat.
And as soon as you’ve tried them, you’ll be so blown away by the taste, that you’ll instantly know that we were right and that they really are the best fried oysters that you’ll ever eat.
How To Fry Oysters With Flour
Let’s talk about some of the variations on the oyster frying them and look at some of the other ways that you can prepare oysters by frying them.
A lot of die-hard, frying devotees insist that the only way to fry oysters, if you want to savor all of their natural flavor, is by coating them in flour and letting the oil, time, and the oysters do the rest.
We tend to prefer to cook two dozen oysters at a time, so that’s our usual staple measurement of how many you’ll need if you want to follow our lead.
You’re also going to need three large eggs, two cups of plain flour, half of a cup of cornmeal, two cups of oil, a teaspoon each of salt and pepper, and maybe a little sea salt and hot sauce for when the oysters are ready.
Open the oysters using the same methodology as you would if you were going to fry them using our recipe, put them in a large bowl and cover them with cold water, making sure that they’re all still in the lower half of their shells.
Put them to one side, and let them soak for four hours.
Cooking is all about using your time wisely, so while you oysters are soaking, crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them thoroughly.
Then, yes, you guessed it, put the bowl with your egg wash in it to one side. It's now time to prepare the flour and cornmeal mix.
Tip the flour, cornmeal and salt, and pepper into a different bowl and mix them together. As soon as they’re thoroughly mixed, place the bowl with the flour and cornmeal mix in it next to the bowl containing the egg wash.
After they’ve properly soaked, take your oysters out of the bowl filled with water, shuck them, rinse them in some cold water, and place them on a plate.
Take another plate out of your cupboard and put it next to the bowl containing the mixture of cornmeal and flour.
Then, one at a time, pick up an oyster, dip it in the egg wash (making sure to completely submerge it), remove it from the egg wash, and place it in the bowl containing the flour and cornmeal mix.
Make sure that the oyster is completely covered and coated in the mixture, take it out of the bowl, and place it on the empty plate next to the flour bowl.
Repeat the process for each oyster until they’re all covered in the cornmeal and flour mix and resting on the same plate.
Place the plate with the oysters on in your refrigerator for fifteen minutes, and while they’re resting in the refrigerator, pour the oil into a pan, put it on your stove, and gradually begin to heat it until it reaches three hundred and fifty degrees.
The hotter the oil is, the better the cook that you’ll get. Take your oysters out of the refrigerator, and when the oil is hot enough, add the oysters to the pan and fry them for between three and four minutes.
When they’re finished cooking, remove them from the pan with a skimmer spoon and put them on a plate lined with some paper towels, and leave the oysters to stand for two minutes.
Add a little sea salt and hot sauce for flavoring, and your flour-fried oysters will be ready to eat.
How To Fry Oysters From A Jar
Sometimes, you just don’t want to bother with the rigmarole of opening and shucking oysters before you cook them, and you just want someone to do it for you.
And, that isn’t a problem because oysters that come pre-prepared in a jar are just as tasty and delicious as the ones that’ll arrive at your door, or you’ll buy from the store, still in their shells.
How do you fry them? You fry them the same way as you would normal oysters.
Take them out of the jar, rinse them off, soak them in an egg wash, coat them in a flour and cornmeal mixture and fry them in oil that’s heated to around three hundred and fifty degrees for three minutes.
The methodology for frying oysters that arrive in a jar is exactly the same as it is for frying oysters in flour or using our super-secret recipe.
They're just easier to prepare and fry because you don’t have to open, soak and shuck them first.
How To Fry Oysters New Orleans Style
New Orleans style is a catch-all term that the tourists use for Louisiana-style fried oysters, which gives them an extra spicy kick and helps to elevate them to a whole new level of deliciousness.
And the secret to frying oysters is all in the flour and cornmeal mix that has an added ingredient, Cajun seasoning.
Don’t panic, Cajun seasoning is incredibly easy to make, and to create your own, you’ll just need to mix one tablespoon of onion powder with four tablespoons of paprika, and then add two teaspoons each of oregano, garlic powder, and salt, and one teaspoon each of thyme, cayenne, white and black pepper.
Once your Cajun seasoning is ready, follow the recipe for flour frying oysters, but make sure that you add two teaspoons of your new seasoning to the flour and cornmeal mix before you coat your oysters in it.
The heat that comes from frying oysters Louisiana, or New Orleans, style is all in the Cajun seasoning.
If you like your oysters with a little more bite, then add another teaspoon of the seasoning to the mix before you start cooking.
The more seasoning you add, the bigger the NOLA kick your oysters are going to have when they’re fried.
How To Fry Oysters Without A Shell
As crazy as it seems, there are some folks out there who seem to believe that you can fry an oyster while it’s still in its shell, and while we hate to be the ones to burst their individual bubbles, you know as well as we do that you can’t fry an oyster while it’s still in its shell.
And the best way to fry an oyster that’s been shucked and taken out of its shell? Well, if you’ve read this far, you’ll already know that we swear by our not-so-secret anymore recipe that we mentioned earlier and the flour and Louisiana styles will always help you to fry up a great tasting plate of oysters.
But if you do try to fry oysters with their shells on, you’ll start down a road whose only destinations are madness and the emergency room.
How To Fry Oysters In A Skillet
Here’s a little tip that we’re going to share with you that a lot of chefs won’t, or might be slightly reluctant to tell you - pan-frying and skillet frying are exactly the same thing, but if you use a heavy skillet, you’ll probably get a better fry on your oysters.
To fry them in a skillet, prepare your oysters exactly the same way as you would if you were going to flour fry them.
Then add half an inch of oil to your skillet and heat it on the stove until that oil is hot, and then add three or four of your oysters to the skillet, fry them for ninety seconds on each side, and use a skimmer spoon to turn them when you need to, and remove them from the skillet as soon as they’re ready.
Place the oysters you’ve fried on a plate lined with paper towels, then add another three or four oysters to the skillet and fry them for ninety seconds on each side, before removing them and putting them on the same plate.
Keep frying your oysters three or four at a time, until they’re all cooked, then season them and they’re ready.
It takes longer to skillet fry oysters, but it’s worth it as they really will taste divine if you take a few extra minutes to carefully prepare and fry them.
How Long Do You Fry Oysters For?
That depends entirely on how you’re frying your oysters. If you’re going to fry them the traditional way and use a deeper pan or deep fat fryer to prepare them, then ideally you don’t want to fry them for any longer than four minutes.
Once they’re in the fryer, make sure that you time them carefully, as you don’t want to cook them for longer than that or they’ll end up with an overly rubbery texture that isn’t exactly pleasant.
However, if you’re going to pan or skillet fry your oysters then you need to fry them for around ninety seconds per side (or three minutes in total) if you want to achieve a perfect cook.
Any longer than that, and you might venture into the aforementioned rubber territory.
How Long Does It Take To Air Fry Oysters?
It took us a little time to figure out how to cook oysters using an air fryer, but when we mastered the art, it became incredibly easy.
The first thing that you need to know about frying oysters in an air fryer, is that before you start cooking make sure that you’ve prepared your oysters exactly the way you would if you were going to flour fry, or skillet fry them.
Then make sure that your air fryer is set at four hundred degrees, and when it’s ready, add your oysters and cook them for no longer than four minutes and no less than three and half minutes.
And voila, that’s how you air fry oysters.
How Long Does It Take To Deep Fry Oysters?
Timing, much as it is life when frying oysters is everything. If you don’t fry them for long enough, you run the risk of them being undercooked and we don’t have to tell you how dangerous shellfish can be if they’re not cooked properly.
But if you fry them for too long, you run the risk of turning your oysters into rubber and ruining what could, and should, have been a nearly flawless meal.
So how long do you deep fry oysters for? Anywhere between three and four minutes in a deep fat fryer should put your oysters right in the middle of the frying golden zone. In other words, they’ll be perfect.
How Do You Fry Oysters?
How do you fry oysters? You open their shells, let them soak in a bowl of cold water for four hours, take them out, shuck them, rinse them off, soak them in an egg wash, roll them in a flour and cornmeal mix, and then add them to a hot skillet or deep fryer and cook them for between three and four minutes, and they’ll be ready to eat.
The trick to making sure that your oysters are fried to perfection is timing and heat.
The fryer or skillet that you’re cooking them in should be around three hundred and fifty to four hundred degrees, and you shouldn't cook them for any longer than three or four minutes.
If you follow those basic rules, your oysters should taste exquisite.
How To Fry Crispy Oysters
Like everything else in the culinary world, the terminology is key to understanding how things work.
Crispy fried oysters are just another way of saying pan or skillet-fried oysters.
So, to cook crispy fried oysters, all you need to do is follow the instructions and methodology for skillet frying them, and you’ll be able to create batch after batch of superb, flavor-filled oysters.
You won’t even have to change the preparation method. Just keep your eyes on the time, and turn up the heat and you’ll be ready to start cooking crispy fried oysters.
How To Pan Fry Oysters With Flour
As long as you know, or are already conversant with the theory of, how to skillet fry oysters, you'll be able to pan fry oysters with flour as the way you do it is exactly the same.
Prepare your oysters the same way, heat the oil in the pan the same way as you would if you were using a skillet, and fry them for exactly the same amount of time that you would if you were going to fry your oysters in a skillet.
It’s that simple.