Pan Fried Oyster Po' Boys with Garlic-Onion Slaw
In the world of decadently delicious sandwiches, fried oyster po' boys have little competition. Toasted hoagie rolls lined with beefsteak tomato slices and freshly made garlic-onion slaw, then topped with crispy, cornmeal crusted, pan fried oysters really can't be beat (if you like oysters that is). To complete the indulgence, we added some sweet, salty veggie chips on the side. Be sure to read our recipe notes for some general hints on frying oysters.
- 2 dozen fresh oysters, shucked
- 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or more to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- Oil for frying (see recipe notes)
- For the garlic-onion slaw:
- 4 to 5 cups cabbage, finely shredded
- 1 cup sweet onion (e.g. Vidalia), very thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 6 tablespoons buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- Pinch of sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
- For the sandwiches:
- 2 medium ripe tomates, thickly sliced
- 4 hoagie rolls (6-inch), split and lightly toasted
Combine the cornmeal, flour, breadcrumbs, salt, cayenne and paprika in a pie plate. In another pie plate, whisk together the egg and buttermilk. Add the oysters to the egg-buttermilk mixture and turn gently with a large spoon to coat. Remove the oysters, one by one from the egg mixture with a pair of tongs and place in the crumbs. Turn several times to coat evenly with the crumb mixture, then transfer to a plate and let stand for 10 minutes.
While the oysters "rest," make the garlic-onion slaw. Place the cabbage and sliced onion in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, mayonnaise, garlic, sugar and hot sauce. Add to the cabbage-onion mixture and toss to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Set aside until ready to assemble the sandwiches.
Heat 1/4-inch of oil in a large skillet to 350°F (medium-high). Test the temperature of the oil by adding a pinch of the dry crumb mixture - if it sizzles immediately, the oil is ready. Add 1/2 the oysters and fry until golden brown and crispy, turning once, about 2-1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and blot very gently. Repeat with the remaining oysters.
To assemble the sandwiches, line each roll with tomato slices and season them lightly with salt and pepper. Add a portion of the garlic-onion slaw and top with 6 oysters. Serve immediately.
Tips for frying oysters ~
It's important to keep a few things in mind when pan frying oysters:
- Handle them gently so they remain juicy and plump and be sure to allow the resting time once they're coated with the crumb mixture. This helps the coating adhere better and takes the chill off the oysters so they don't cool down the oil as much when added to the pan.
- Add enough oil to the pan to be equal to about 1/2 the thickness of the oysters. In most cases 1/4-inch depth works well, but if your oysters are especially plump, you may want to add a bit more.
- Work in batches and don't overcrowd the pan. Overcrowding will lower the temperature of the oil too much. This can cause the coating to fall off and the oysters to absorb more oil than they should.
- Turn the oysters over with tongs when you start to see a little moisture form on the upper side - about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes should do it.
- You can keep the cooked oysters warm by putting them on a baking sheet in a single layer and placing them in a preheated 250°F oven for the few minutes it takes to cook the next batch. Just don't cover them, they'll get soggy.
- If you have an electric skillet, by all means use it. The precise temperature control will provide excellent results.