’Tis the season for eating oysters. For those of you who prefer your oysters less slurpy, we turned to two stellar chefs for recipes (with a drink recipe as a bonus). Enjoy!
Single Fried Oysters
Chef John Shields – Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen, Baltimore
“Long before crab was on the culinary radar screen of the Chesapeake, oysters were the must-have,” says Chef John Shields, who has celebrated the Bay in multiple PBS TV series, cookbooks (his newest is The New Chesapeake Kitchen) and as Chef at Gertrude’s Chesapeake Kitchen, located in the Baltimore Museum of Art. As celebrated as he is, this recipe is simple enough for the most basic home chef—which is true to its roots, as oysters were considered common food back in the abundant days of the 19th century.
“The Chesapeake’s briny waters produce some of the tastiest oysters in the world,” he says. “My recipe for Single Fried Oysters is in keeping with my philosophy of ‘keeping it simple’ when preparing oysters and seafood from the Bay.”
- 1 pint shucked oysters
- 1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp Old Bay seasoning
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Horseradish sauce or tartar sauce, for dipping
- Drain the oysters, reserving the liquor, if desired (see Note). Combine the cornmeal and flour, salt, Old Bay and pepper. Dust the oysters in the flour/cornmeal mixture, one at a time. Set aside the oysters for several minutes to dry,
- Pour oil into a frying pan to a depth of ½ inch. Heat the oil and saute the oysters for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the skillet. Add more oil as needed. Remove the oysters with a slotted utensil and place on paper towels to drain well. Season with salt and pepper.
Note: Oyster liquor may be added to dishes for heightened flavor.
Pushing Up Daisies
Saltine, Norfolk, Va.
The classic Corpse Reviver cocktail was so named for its purported curative properties, but equipped with a warning that consumption of three or more may put you back in the grave. This cocktail takes that formula and replaces traditional fortified wine with Chardonnay syrup, which brings vast notes of apple and orange blossom to the party. A little bit of garnish greenery helps to brighten everything up.
- .75 oz Aviation gin
- .75 oz lemon juice
- .75 oz white wine simple syrup
- .75 oz Pierre Ferrand dry Curacao
- Rinse of absinthe
- Splash of soda
- Sprig of microgreens
- Combine the first ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake to mix. Spray the glass with absinthe from a mini spray bottle, or alternatively pour some in the glass, swirl and toss the absinthe. (You just want a touch of the flavor.) Add a splash of soda water for a hint of carbonation, then serve on the rocks with a garnish of microgreens.
Pushing Up Daisies
Chef Matthais Maihoefer – Saltine, Norfolk, Va.
The Main, the Hilton hotel in Norfolk, is a go-to for locals and visitors alike, due in no small part to their ground-floor restaurant, Saltine. “Saltine features a raw bar that showcases the region’s finest oysters, clams and shrimp,” says restaurant manager Michael Cubilete. But that’s not all. “Saltine isn’t just another restaurant with a raw bar. We also specialize in craft cocktails that feature curated ingredients, high technical skills to execute, and thoughtfulness behind every recipe.”
Cubilete recommends pairing their chargrilled oysters with their signature Pushing Up Daisies cocktail, which is a spin on a 1930s drink called Corpse Reviver #2. “This drink is bright, crisp and balanced. The house-made white wine simple syrup neutralizes other ingredients and doubles as a palette cleanser after every sip. The buttery notes pair exceptionally well with Chef’s chargrilled oyster recipe.
- 1 lb full-fat butter
- 2 tbsp minced shallot
- 4 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
- 1 tbsp furikake (a Japanese condiment)
- ½ cup shredded parmesan
- 2 tbsp Kosher diamond salt
- 1 tbsp fresh cracked black pepper
- 4 oz kombu (edible kelp)
- 10 oz water
- Start by bringing water to a boil, then turn off the burner and steep the kombu in the water like tea for 45 minutes.
- While the kombu is steeping, allow the butter to come to room temperature.
- Once the kombu dashi (tea) has come down to room temperature, whip the butter until it has become light and fluffy. Then slowly mix in the tea in while the butter continues whipping.
- Combine the rest of the ingredients until fully incorporated.
- Smear the butter on your favorite oyster, grill or broil until desired done-ness and enjoy!
- Store any extra butter in the fridge in a covered container for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Chef’s Note: “We use James River Oysters for our house oyster, although any oyster would work. I prefer a slightly larger oyster, something that will hold a good amount of butter in the bowl of the shell. The recipe has a good bit of salt in it, so people who are sensitive to salt should choose a less briny variety; Mobjacks, Rappahannocks, Skipjacks, Little Wicomicos would all be good. We have been sourcing some awesome oysters from Laughing King and Ragged Island as well; these are on the saltier side but I’m a huge fan.”
Shot Tower Gibson
The Gibson, not the martini, is the perfect oyster cocktail. Just like oysters, it’s meant to be had fast and ice-cold. The celery bitters and cocktail onion garnish lends just the right amount of savory sweetness to the mix. Add 1/4 oz of the onion pickling juice if you want to kick it up to the next level!
- 2.75 oz Shot Tower Gin
- .25 oz Dry Vermouth
- 1 shake Celery Bitters
- Stir over ice and strain into a coupe glass.
- Garnish with 2-3 cocktail onions and enjoy while it’s ice-cold.