These beignets -- oysters fried with a cornmeal batter -- could easily become part of a po' boy sandwich, using smoked oyster sauce instead of mayonnaise or remoulade. Scoop out a soft roll, slather it with the sauce and stuff it with fried oysters, shredded lettuce and slices of ripe, in-season tomatoes.
"Select" oysters are what you'll usually find sold in the seafood department of grocery stores; the term refers to their size.
It's best to have a thermometer on hand for this recipe, to check the temperature of the frying oil.
Make Ahead: The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve the oysters right after they are fried.
- For the sauce
- 1/2 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise
- 3 ounces canned smoked oysters with their oil, such as Crown Prince brand
- 1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 scallion, white and light-green parts, chopped
- 6 sprigs cilantro, leaves and stems, chopped
- For the oysters
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1/4 cup flour
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 24 shucked select oysters and their liquor (about 2 1/2 cups; see headnote)
- 3 tablespoons white or yellow cornmeal
- 1 quart canola oil, for frying
For the sauce: Combine the mayonnaise, smoked oysters, soy sauce, scallion and cilantro in a mini food processor. Puree until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use (for up to 2 days).
For the oysters: Combine the water, butter, salt and pepper in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has completely melted, stir in the flour to form a dough/paste. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, so the flour loses some of its raw taste, then transfer to a medium bowl and cool for 10 minutes.
Stir in the egg so it is completely incorporated.
Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the oysters into the mixture in the bowl, which will loosen into a batter as the oysters' juices start to release. Once the batter is loose and the oysters are completely coated, fold in the cornmeal and combine well. Let the oysters rest in the batter while the oil heats.
Line a baking sheet with several layers of paper towels.
Heat the oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees. (Use a thermometer.) Working in batches of 10, carefully drop the oysters one at a time into the hot fat. Once they have risen to the top, let them fry for 1 minute to set the batter, then use a slotted spoon to start turning them so they brown evenly. Cook for a total of 3 to 4 minutes, then transfer to the lined baking sheet to drain. Sprinkle them lightly with salt while they are still hot. Repeat to use all of the oysters; discard any leftover batter.
Serve the oysters warm, with ramekins of the chilled smoked oyster sauce for dipping.
From Sourced columnist David Hagedorn.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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