The late Baltimore-bred journalist, essayist and culture critic H.L. Mencken wrote in 1918 that “no civilized man, save perhaps in mere bravado, would voluntarily eat a fried oyster.” Black Tap executive chef Stephen Parker clearly disagrees, having recently made his buttermilk chicken-fried take on the dish for an ongoing collaborative dinner series between the shake-and-burger joint and Brooklyn-based Threes Brewing
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Paired with Threes’ Dreams of Yesterday pilsner and served with a smoky remoulade made with Old Bay seasoning, Parker’s fried oysters were inspired by his memories of spending summers on the Jersey Shore. “I’m from Jersey, I love fried seafood. Shrimp, clams, that sort of stuff. I loved fried oysters as a kid growing up. Now they bring me back to my childhood,” Parker tells InsideHook.
A play on Black Tap’s chicken fingers, Parker’s oysters were marinated for hours in a mixture containing a cup and a half of beer and then dredged in a flour mixture meant to provide crispiness and crunchiness following the frying process. “If you’re deep frying seafood, you’re deep frying something that’s great on its own that doesn’t need to be touched,” Parker says. “You can slurp a raw oyster by itself and not even add anything to it, but there’s really no texture, right? Adding that texture is why you’re frying them. It makes them crunchy and you still get all that salty mineral flavor from the oyster as you would if it was raw.”
For those who tend to avoid raw oysters because of the sloppy slurping that’s usually required to ingest them, Parker’s fried oysters eliminate the issue. They also don’t require breaking the bank.
“Being a chef, I would not fry certain high-end oysters because they are extremely special and have these great mineral flavors,” he says. “A middle-of-the-road oyster is what I would probably fry. The ones that are a little more meaty and a little more chewy are the perfect ones to fry. I remember eating oysters in Malaysia that were almost the size of hot dogs. If it’s an oyster that needs a knife and a fork, you should probably fry it.”
Buttermilk Chicken-Fried Oysters
Prep Time: 3 hours
Servings: 30 oysters
- 12 large oysters
- For the Batter/Marinade
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 1.5 cup pilsner
- 1 tbsp. n Old Bay
- 0.25 cup hot sauce
- For the Seasoned Flour
- 1 cup flour
- 0.25 cup Old Bay
- 0.25 cup potato starch
- 0.25 cup corn starch
- For the Smoky Remoulade
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 2 tsp. Creole seasoning
- 2 tsp. hot sauce
- 2 tsp. prepared horseradish
- 1.5 tsp. smoked paprika
- 0.5 tsp. black pepper
- 0.5 cup chopped dill pickles, plus more for garnish
For the Smoky Remoulade
Peel and finely mince the garlic cloves.
Whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, Creole seasoning, hot sauce, horseradish, smoked paprika, black pepper, and minced garlic until smooth.
Stir in the chopped dill pickles.
Chill the sauce in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Garnish with additional chopped pickles before serving.
For the Oysters
Mix seasoned flour/marinade ingredients thoroughly and marinate oysters for a minimum of three hours.
Dredge oysters in seasoned flour.
Fry six oysters in peanut oil or sunflower oil at 325 degrees for 3-4 minutes.
Allow them to rest on parchment paper for two minutes.
Serve with lemons and/or smoky remoulade sauce.
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