I have always loved the East Coast, specifically Cape Cod, where I would travel every summer. Some of my favorite moments back on the Cape are mostly food-related: fresh oysters, chowder, salt water taffy, the list goes on. I decided that it was time to give the West Coast a try! I made the trek over to Seattle and Portland last month.
Every aspect of the trip was pretty close to perfect, but the food in general really was perfect. I never had fried oysters before this trip, but now I’m a believer. The first order of fried oysters (I had two in one day at two different restaurants) was from The Walrus and Carpenter.
This is a refined yet approachable and casual spot in Ballard, Seattle. People wait in long lines everyday for it to open at 4pm. The place is small, and they don’t take reservations so after having the fried oysters, the long line makes a lot of sense. Their fried oysters are perfectly fried with a light and crispy breading. The brilliant pairing with a cilantro aioli was unbelievable.
Of course I had fresh oysters, too! They just melt in your mouth with a beautiful balance of acidity and saltwater; champagne vinegar and freshly made horseradish for garnishes topped it off. I was lucky enough to grab a spot right at the bar to watch them shuck our Blue Pool, Otter Cove, and Paradise Cove oysters.
My second order of fried oysters was from Westward & Little Gull. Their view of North Lake Union and an oyster shell fire-pit was a great backdrop.
Their fried oysters were a runner-up to the first place, but the breading and sauce is really what makes it second place. The mayo-based sauce was too spicy for the oysters, and the breading a little too heavy. They were still so fresh, and that’s what matters most. You can’t go wrong frying freshly caught oysters!
I will always remember the Pacific Northwest Coast for giving me a new love: fried oysters. I highly recommend making your way out to Seattle and trying their fried and freshly caught oysters! If you can’t make it there soon enough, Chef Sara's family recently found some good ones in New Orleans and of course, there are also plenty of great oysters on the Gulf Coast. If that's also too far to travel, try making them yourself with The Chopping Block's recipe.
Yield: 4 servings as an appetizer
Active time: 20 minutes
Start to finish: 20 minutes
2 dozen Blue Point oysters, or other small oysters, shucked
Oil for frying
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the shucked oysters in a colander to allow liquid to drain off.
- Heat the oil in a deep, heavy pot until it reaches 375°.
- Stir together the cornmeal, salt and pepper in a shallow pie dish.
- Toss the oysters through the cornmeal, ensuring they are coated well. Fry the oysters in batches until golden brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes. Using a skimmer, transfer the fried oysters to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
- Serve the oysters while hot with Remoulade (recipe follows).
Yield: 2 cups
Active time: 10 minutes
Start to finish: 10 minutes
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Tabasco
1 clove garlic, rough chopped
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
1 cup grapeseed oil
Salt and pepper to taste
- Place the egg yolk, lemon juice, parsley, horseradish, mustard, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, garlic and smoky paprika in the bowl of the food processor.
- Process until the ingredients are well combined.
- While the machine is running slowly add the oil in a slow steady stream.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
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