Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Oyster Tacos & Getting Schooled by a Salty Dog
A couple of years ago Michelle and I went to her dad's house in Panama City, FL for an oyster feast. Michelle's dad Greg is THE original salty dog. His livelihood came hard as a commercial fisherman in the Gulf of Mexico. There isn't much about sea navigation, hurricanes, fishing, eating seafood, and drinking that Greg doesn't know. He can bend your ear for a spell if you give him a chance. Don't think I've ever heard the same story twice. He's literally got a million of them and he tells them pretty darn well.
On that night Greg broke out the fryer to make what may have been the best fried oyster I've ever eaten. He showed me how to use self rising flour in a pot of peanut oil at the right temperature. Greg does it all by site, sound and feel. I've tried to duplicate his fry from that night a few times and I've made some nice fried oysters, but I still think his are better. The difference might be the touch of a salty cook.
3 - 4 dozen fresh raw oysters
5 - 6 cups self rising flour
2 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs black pepper
1 tbs cayenne pepper
Enough peanut oil to fill a pot 2/3rds
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 white vinegar
1 jalapeno seeded and finely diced
1 half kosher pickle finely diced
1 tbs capers
1 tbs sriracha
1 tsp Louisiana hot sauce
12 - 18 corn tortillas
half a head of lettuce shredded
Fill pot with oil and heat at a medium to medium high setting. Use a thermometer so you know exactly where you are with the temperature. You'll want to drop oysters in around 375 and maintain the fry at around 350 - 375. It's easier to bring the temperature of the oil up slower because it can take a long time for it to cool.
In a bowl, whisk flour, salt and pepper to evenly mix the seasoning. Dredge about a dozen oysters in the flour and shake off excess. When the oil is hovering around 375 carefully drop oysters in a couple out at a time. These will float on top so with a fork or tongs rotate them as they begin to brown up. They should take about 6 - 8 minutes. Once golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon and place in a pan lined with paper towels. You can put them in a 200 degree oven to keep warm while your are frying up the next batch.
In a bowl mix all that stuff up. You may want to tinker a bit to get the balance of acid and spice that you want. Set it in the fridge to chill.
Grill a couple of corn tortillas at a time on a comal or iron skillet at medium high until they get a slight char. Place them in a warmer as you go along.
Spread some dressing on a hot tortilla, add a little lettuce, add some oysters, drizzle on some more dressing and have a taco.