If you are a friend of the bivalve, you already know one of the finest things in the world to eat is an oyster po’boy. A New Orleans / Gulf Coast classic, the oyster po’boy is an unfussy affair—crisp fried oysters, a little mayo, lettuce, tomato and pickles.
Easy. You keep them simple, put a little smokiness in the crust, riff on classic New Orleans remoulade for the sauce, and you make ‘em real cute. The chef may be too respectful to say this, but we will—these might even be better than the original.
Little Oyster Sandwiches
Adapted by Gilt Taste for the home cook from Andrew Carmellini, The Dutch
Makes 12, serves 1-12 (you’re going to want lots of these)
For the crust:
Makes enough for a few batches of oysters
2 cups cornmeal
1¼ tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
For the sauce:
Quantities here make for plenty of sauce. Don’t fear; you’ll find another way to use the leftovers.
1¼ cups mayonnaise
1/3 cup grainy mustard
¼ cup pickled okra*, cut into ¼” dice
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped fine
1½ tablespoons cornichons, cut into small dice
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1 teaspoon chervil, minced
1 teaspoon tarragon, minced
2 tablespoons okra pickling liquid*
½ teaspoon pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
For the sandwiches:
12 slider buns, split (preferably brioche, and with sesame seeds)
3 iceberg lettuce leaves, torn into quarters
12 large oysters, like Wellfleets**
Canola oil, for frying, as needed
- Combine all of the ingredients for the crust and whisk together. Set aside.
- Combine all of the ingredients for the okra sauce in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
- Shuck the oysters and drain their juice (save it for another purpose – it’s mad tasty). Pat the oysters dry with paper towels.
- When ready to fry, heat 3 inches or more of canola oil over medium high heat, in a pot at least 6 inches deep. Make sure to leave yourself at least half the height of the pot for clearance. Insert a frying thermometer, and heat oil to 350°F.
- As the oil heats, dredge the oysters in the crust mixture. Slather both sides of buns with sauce and place a quarter-leaf of lettuce on each bottom bun.
- When the oil has reached the proper temperature, fry the dredged oysters a few at a time (don’t crowd the pot; give them enough room to bob around a bit). Cook until just cooked through – timing is key; you want them just firmed up and the crust crisped, about 1 to 1½ minutes.
- Remove oysters from the fryer and let drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with a little salt immediately to season. Place the oysters on the lettuce leaves, top the sandwich, skewer with a toothpick and serve immediately.
* If you don’t have some pickled okra on hand (you don’t!?), Rick’s Picks makes a nice one you can order. Or, if you must, substitute another pickle of your choice.
** Size matters. As Andrew Carmellini noted in Esquire, a relatively large oyster allows you to taste it, and not just the crust.
Photo by Noah Fecks
How to open oysters with style