Sunday, January 29, 2012

One for the Cookbook

The Family Food cookbook revision is coming along. I've gotten some additional old favorites thanks to the Wolf's wife, Second Sister Down, and Big Sis. Still hoping for the new rendition of Lane Cake from Mandy. She figured out how to make it almost traditional but with no artificially candied fruits so it would be a great addition.

You many not be blessed with as many siblings as I am but I'll bet you have shared stories and the occasional (or not so occasional) difficulty between siblings. I think that is the way of it. A lot of the books I've been reading recently seem to have stories that hinge, in one way or another, on relationships between siblings. My own relationships with my siblings are mostly warm and friendly but we only communicate now and then with each other...the Internet helps there...but when we are face to face you will see us talking non-stop. This can be puzzling to anyone else, including spouses. It is not the result of bad feelings between us (usually) or not caring about each other, or selfishness or indifference; the root lies in our childhood (now that's different, right?)

One of the reasons we don't just pick up the phone and get some of that talking done when we are apart is that we were raised to only use the phone when absolutely calling a friend for the homework assignment if we were home sick. With each call no matter how short having a cost attached and with 8 children you can see how that became the rule...and is was sensible. Unfortunately even as adults many of us don't feel comfortable just calling someone for no good reason, just to chat. I suspect that this is unusual. What is your experience in this regard dear reader?

So it may take a while before I call around and get the rest of the recipes the cookbook might be missing but in the meantime I want to share our recipe for Fried Oysters. It was passed down by Dad to me as the Friday cook and to other siblings but certainly to the Wolf, who passed them on to sons Captain and Cucumber Spraygun.

I'm going to give Dad's recipe with a few tips from the latter three. I use this recipe but my variation is to use Panko instead of dry bread crumbs. I like the lightness and crunchiness of Panko coated fried oysters.

Raw oysters look so nasty that it is totally amazing that anyone ever tried to eat one. They must have been pretty hungry. Of course once they tasted them and got that briny deliciousness imprinted on their brain it is quite understandable that shell mounds soon followed.

If you have trouble with the idea of eating a raw oyster, do try this fried version. The oysters become creamy and almost light and the crust has some crunch that is a great counterpoint in texture and flavor. I add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice while Sweetie likes Chili sauce with his. Plain ketsup is good with them, too. Just be sure to serve them hot. Don't those look delicious?

Fried Oysters

1 jar oysters for two people
1 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 eggs
1/4 cup water or milk
2 cups fine dry bread crumbs or Panko
Vegetable oil or shortening...enough to come up 1 inch on your frying pan when hot

Drain the oysters in a strainer or colander. Discard the drained liquid or reserve to flavor oyster stew.

Prepare the breading: In one bowl combine the flour and salt and pepper. In another bowl beat the eggs with the water. (Note: the Wolf and sons use milk in their egg wash and make it an eggy wash, not so much liquid.) In a pie pan or similar wide shallow bowl place the fine dry bread crumbs (plain, not seasoned)or Panko crumbs.

Line a sheet pan with waxed paper or parchment paper. Using a fork or spoon, transfer an oyster to the flour bowl and dredge with flour. Transfer to the egg mixture bowl and coat with the egg mixture, then transfer to the bread crumbs or Panko and coat with that. Lift the oyster up to dislodge excess bread crumbs or Panko and place the breaded oyster on the prepared sheet pan. Repeat this process until all of the oyster have been breaded. Chill the oysters for at least 15 minutes, up to 30 minutes to set the breading.

Slowly heat the vegetable oil or shortening in a frying pan to about 1 inch depth (the Wolf and sons might have it deeper, more like 2-3 inches), until oil is very hot, just shy of smoking. When the oil is hot, fry the oysters, about 6 - 8 at a time, turning to the other side when the first side is golden brown. When golden on both sides, remove from the oil with slotted spoon or tongs to a tray lined with absorbent paper. Add the next batch of oysters, then transfer the ones on the absorbent paper to a cookie sheet in a warm oven to keep them warm. Put them in to fry at intervals so you don't cool the oil.

When all are fried, mound on a platter and serve with lemon wedges and ketsup or chili sauce.


  1. I love this project, and I think it would be something worth doing with my Mom's family if any of them ever measured anything. Instead, you'd have to sit by them while they were cooking, and just take notes - which I should do with my Aunt Gertrude next time I'm home.

    With my sisters and I, it would be sort of an hilarious book, as the recipes from my eldest would dominate, and my older sister's pages would be either blank or covered with recipes for stuff like peanut butter crackers and cold cereal...

  2. Tanita, I can see that sibling order and personalities are a factor in your family, it! I do hope that you have a chance to take notes when your Aunt Gertrude cooks and you are there. There is something special about cooking that is the result of either mentoring or watching someone cook. Then I would hope you would share some (please).

  3. Time is good fun and will bring it all together.
    Raw doesn't really appeal but oh my heavens I could eat fried oysters till I'm sick.

  4. Tanna, the raw ones are an aquired taste for sure but I admit that I ate about a dozen when I made these...and could have eaten more!