With modern refrigeration, the saying that oysters are best in months ending in ‘R’ is no longer relevant. But I still use that saying as an excuse to eat more oysters during those fall months. Below is a recipe for buttermilk and cornmeal fried oysters, paired with a refreshing celery-apple relish. For the oyster breading, I like the texture and taste of coarse-ground cornmeal, but the coarse-grind doesn’t hold together too well during frying so I used a mix of flour and cornmeal. The relish allows you to eat as many fried oysters as you like while getting your daily dose of fruit and vegetables.
Cornmeal Fried Oysters with Celery-Apple Relish, makes enough for 2 pints of oysters (32 oz)
4 celery stalks, roughly chopped
1/2 apple, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small shallot, chopped
1/4 cup parsley leaves
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. mustard
½ tsp kosher salt
Mix all ingredients in a food processor. Taste for seasoning, and reserve until oysters are ready.
32 oz shucked oysters (about 4 or 5 dozen oysters)
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups coarse-ground cornmeal
2 tsp. of cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
Canola oil, for frying
Drain the oysters from their juice. Save the juice for another use (spaghetti and oysters, seafood stock, bloody mary’s, etc). Soak the oysters in the buttermilk while you prepare the breading and heat the oil.
Mix together the flour, cornmeal, cayenne pepper, and salt. Heat about 3 inches of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Take about 6 oysters from the buttermilk and coat with the dry ingredients. When the oil is ready, carefully drop in the oysters. You can use a thermometer to check the oil temperature, but if you don’t have a thermometer, you can just toss in a bit of batter, and if it sizzles, it’s ready. You don’t want to drop in the oysters before the oil is hot or they will be very greasy. Fry the oysters until they have a nice light-brown crust, roughly 2 or 3 minutes per batch. Remove with a slotted spoon, and repeat with the next batch. If your oysters are browning too quickly or burning, reduce the flame.
Serve the oysters immediately with extra sea salt if needed, and the celery-apple relish.