The Carolinas meet California in a Po’ Boy that combines a favorite from each coast. Served up with our home-brewed hefeweizen.
True, po’ boys originated in Louisiana, but the fried oyster sandwiches of my youth were served up in family-run seafood shacks on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. You had to remember to ask for unsweetened iced tea in those Southern establishments, shoes were optional – even the waitresses often went barefooted -, and a proudly displayed Department of Health rating of “C” was a guarantee that the seafood would be fresh, authentic and delicious.
A warm, soft bun slathered with tartar sauce or rémoulade, a wedge of lemon, and sides of fries and ‘slaw are traditional and tough to improve on. Some folks add lettuce, tomatoes, or pickles (or even the ‘slaw) for a little crunch, but when we chomp down on an oyster po’ boy, all we want is soft bun and even softer, deep-fried, juicy oysters. The crispy coating on the oysters is crunch enough. But how about a few slices of creamy avocado?
Oh, The World’s Best Bar Snack? That’s what Bill Briwa, Chef-Instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, calls deep-friend parsnips. These are a cinch to make, and, yeah, they just might be the World’s Best Bar Snack. Get the recipe here.
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise (Click here for a preservative-free home-made recipe.)
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp capers, chopped fine
- 1 tsp spicy powdered chili mix. One featuring smoked chipotles is especially good. (Get some ideas for your own mix here.)
- 2 or 3 dashes your favorite hot sauce (We like Cholula)
- a little cracked pepper
- Mix the above ingredients together.
- Allow to sit for a few minutes so flavors come together.
Deep Fried Oysters
- a dedicated deep-frying pot or a good stainless steel pot. For safety, the pot should be large enough so that the oil (see below) does not fill it more than half full.
- cooking thermometer that attaches to the pot so you can monitor oil temperature
- a slotted steel spoon or wire mesh (spider) for removing the oysters from the oil
- cutting board or platter on which to rest oysters after they’ve been rolled in crackers
- platter with paper towel to rest and drain fried oysters
- a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag
- 1 pint fresh oysters (The only way we can have fresh oysters in Bush Alaska is to freeze them. Happily, they freeze well.)
- approximately 50 ounces cooking oil that withstands high heat Canola or peanut oil are good choices.
- 3 eggs, well beaten in a bowl with fairly steep sides
- 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp Cholula or similar hot sauce
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tbsp chili powder mixture, preferably one with chipotle, divided into two equal portions
- 1/4 tsp salt
- cracked pepper
- 2 cups crushed saltine crackers (we use salted saltines)
- Drain oysters and set aside. You might want to gently roll them in paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- Add canola oil to a large pot and heat over high heat to 360° F (180° C). Keep an eye on the temperature, lowering burner heat as necessary. You can test the oil’s readiness for cooking by dropping in a pinch of crushed saltines. They should immediately sizzle.
- Meanwhile, add soy sauce, Cholula, and half of the powdered chili mix to the beaten eggs and whisk together.
- Add the flour, half the powdered chili mix, salt and pepper to the gallon-sized plastic bag, seal and shake well to mix. Pour the mixture into a shallow bowl or onto a plate.
- Place the crushed saltines in a shallow bowl or on a plate. A good way to crush them is to put them in a gallon-sized sealable plastic bag. Seal the bag, but leave a small opening so air can escape. Use a rolling pin to crush the crackers in the bag.
- Arrange items on your counter in the following order, leading toward the frying pot: oysters, flour mixture, egg mixture, crushed crackers, board/platter for resting oysters.
- Using tongs: Place an oyster into the flour mixture and thoroughly coat but give it a shake to let excess flour fall off. Then place the oyster in the egg mixture, thoroughly coat it, but hold it above the bowl for a moment to let excess egg drip off. Next, roll it in the crushed crackers, making sure it’s completely covered. Finally, set it on the board/platter to rest. Repeat till all oysters are ready to be fried.
- Hopefully you or your sous chef have been keeping an eye on the temperature of the cooking oil. 360° F is about right. Use tongs to carefully add oysters one at a time – no splattering. Keep adding oysters, but don’t overcrowd the pot. Try to keep them from touching each other – better too few oysters at a time than too many. Using tongs, gently turn the oysters to ensure that all side are evenly cooked to a golden brown. This will take 1 to 3 minutes. Don’t overcook them.
- Use a steel slotted spoon or a spider to remove fried oysters. Place on platter with paper towel to drain. You can keep them warm and crisp on the center rack of a warm oven, or loosely cover them with a towel.
The Po’ Boy
- It can be nice to toast the sandwich roll.
- Spread both sides with rémoulade. Arrange the fried oysters and give them a squirt of lemon juice from a lemon wedge. Top with slices of avocado. Drop the lemon wedge into your hefeweizen and dig in.