We generally steer clear of hyperbole here at Hama Hama and avoid saying that things (the oysters, our farm, ourselves, etc) are "the best." We like to live in a world where there's plenty of love (and praise) to go around, and prefer to let oysters and clams speak for themselves. But this recipe is so good, and so easy, that we can't help but call it "literally the easiest and most delicious dinner in the world." Yep. It's that good.
And like any good recipe, this one has its secrets. First, par-boil the oysters before you bread them (this is anathema to some, but trust us!). Second, let the oysters sit for at least 20 minutes after breading and before frying.
We like to keep things super simple, so we don't mess around with egg washes or multiple dunks into fancy flours. And don't worry about over-cooking the oysters. Recipes (and the people who write them) often warn that overcooking oysters will make them "rubbery." This makes no sense to us, and we've cooked (and overcooked, and undercooked) a LOT of oysters. Overcooked oysters (especially oysters in the shell) can definitely get dry and burned, but in our experience, only undercooked oysters are rubbery. A perfectly (and fully) cooked oyster is firm, delicious, and truly toothsome.
Below is a photo to help you eyeball the difference between a raw and cooked oyster. On top the oysters are raw and at bottom they're boiled. Same oysters, different states. Notice that the boiled oysters are opaque and firm (and a bit smaller) and their mantles (edges) are nicely curled. Nothing rubbery about them.
The recipe that follows requires a finely ground flour-and-cornmeal style breading. If you're a panko person, you'll need to add a step to the procedure... either use an egg wash or mix in bunch of flour and finely ground cornmeal to the panko itself to make it stick. We have a favorite seafood breading that we use (see below), but any one will work. You can also make one on your own, using either pancake batter that you've spiced up with herbs and other spicy things, or a flour / corn meal / herb mixture that you make from scratch. Rice flour is super delicious on its own or mixed in with wheat and corn flour. If you have any breading recipes you particularly enjoy, let us know!
Serves however many you want it to serve. Maybe plan for 6 oysters per person for a main dish, but, you know: the world's your oyster. Go for it.
Shucked Oysters (we recommend extra small, small, or medium)
Oil for frying
Lemon wedges, tartar sauce, and hot sauce for serving
(All of the above available here).
Put the oysters in a pot of water and bring the water to a boil. Once it boils, remove from heat and drain the oysters in a colander. Rinse them with water just so they're cool to the touch. Do not pat them dry as a little moisture is necessary for the breading to stick.
Roll the oysters in your favorite flour-based seafood breading. We really love a breading made in Oysterville Washington, near Long Beach, called Willabay Seafood Breading. If you're using a panko or other crusty breading, you'll need to be a little more careful with how you bread the oysters, and should probably roll the oysters in flour and then dunk them in an egg wash (beaten egg plus a tablespoon of water or milk) before rolling them in the panko. Or you can add wheat flour and cornmeal to the panko until it looks like something that will stick without a wash.
Put the breaded oysters on a plate and let them sit in a refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. Then pan fry them in a high-heat oil until they're crispy and hot. (But if olive oil is all you have, don't fret. It'll be yummy). Serve with lemon wedges, tartar, and hot sauce.