Cooking Class with Chef Ivan Flowers – Lesson 66 Fried Oysters

Last week’s class was all about creating a chef’s sandwich. I do hope you discovered YOUR chef’s sandwich! In this class I want to teach you how to make fried oysters and a mouthwatering remoulade. Fried oysters are a dish even non-oyster eaters love because you have all of that lovely oyster flavor without any of the sliminess that can be associated with them. Once you master how to make a perfect fried oyster the ways to use them are endless. Think oyster po’boys, fried oyster crostini, oyster appetizers with a remoulade dipping sauce, etc. These two flavors work so well together. The fried oyster is crispy, creamy and sweet with a slight brininess that plays perfectly with the acidic bite of the remoulade sauce. Please note that this is a recipe that requires a day ahead planning.

Before I get into the recipes I want to talk about the type of oyster you will be using. You will use a pre-shucked pacific oyster that is found in sixteen ounce containers in the seafood section of your local supermarket. These oysters are super fresh and held in their own liquor (the briny juice that surrounds every oyster in the shell). These oysters are ideal for frying because they tend to be very large, plus, YOU do not have to shuck them!

Now let’s get cooking!

This recipe will serve four. You will need: one sixteen ounce container of shucked Pacific oysters, one cup corn meal, 1/3 cup flour, one ½ tablespoons salt, one tablespoon pepper, one teaspoon granulated garlic, three cups buttermilk, ¼ cup Tabasco, one ½ cups canola oil, one cup mayo, two tablespoons chopped sweet pickles, juice of one lemon, one tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, one large frying pan, tongs, one baking sheet, paper towels, spoons, medium bowl, large glass bowl, plastic wrap, colander, large pie pan and a whisk.

The night before you plan to cook the oysters you are going to marinate them in buttermilk. This adds flavor and tenderizes them. Remember from the fried chicken class, the lactic acid in the buttermilk acts as a natural tenderizer. Also, you will be adding in the Tabasco which will infuse flavor into the oysters.

For this step it is important that you use a glass bowl. Why? Because the lactic acid in the buttermilk can react with a metal bowl and cause the oysters to take on a metallic flavor.

So, first drain the oysters in a colander then place them in a large glass bowl. Next add the buttermilk and Tabasco and stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

When you are ready to fry the oysters, drain them and set aside. In the large pie pan combine the corn meal, flour, one tablespoon salt, 1/2 tablespoon pepper and one teaspoon granulated garlic. You use both corn meal and flour because the corn meal adds an extra level of crunchiness that works beautifully with the creaminess of the oysters.

Mix well with the whisk.

Now, add the canola oil into the large frying pan and set it over medium-high heat. While the oil comes to temperature (you will know it’s ready when you see a slight smoke come off the oil), set up your draining station by lining your baking sheet with paper towel. Now, take the oysters and coat them well in the corn meal/flour mixture.

You are pan frying the oysters instead of submersion frying because this keeps the oysters from over-cooking and preserves their creaminess. Once the oil is hot, fry the oysters in batches of six for about one minute on each side. You want them to be a nice golden brown color. When they are cooked, immediately remove to your draining station. Repeat until all oysters are cooked. Remember to sprinkle with them with salt when they are hot out of the oil. This will make sure they are perfectly seasoned.

Okay, now onto the Remoulade sauce. This is simply a fancy name for tartar sauce. In a medium bowl combine the mayonnaise, lemon juice, sweet pickles, chopped dill, smoked paprika, one half teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Mix well. You can also do this ahead. The longer it sits, the more pronounced the flavor.

Okay, now what to do with this delicacy. As I stated before, a po’boy is utterly delicious. Spread a baguette with the remoulade, top with shredded iceberg lettuce and those fried oysters. Or spread the Remoulade on a crostini, top with the fried oyster and serve with a crisp white wine or ice cold beer. There are so many ways to enjoy these oysters.

Once you master this technique try playing with the breading. Add in cayenne for a spicy breading or some herbs to change it up. Remember, as with any technique or recipe, the most important component is the cook’s heart. The heart is what helps you create delicious meals you’ll never forget.

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Chef Ivan Flowers

Chef Flowers has over 25 years of fine cuisine experience. The former Executive Chef at Top of The Market, San Diego, also owned Fournos restaurant in Sedona, Arizona, named a top 25 restaurant in Arizona. He was also Executive Chef at L’Auberge de Sedona, the AAA Four-Diamond, Four Star award winning restaurant. Flowers has created extraordinary cuisine for some of the finest restaurants in Arizona, including T. Cooks at Scottsdale's Royal Palms Resort and the Phoenician's Mary Elaine's and Different Pointe of View.