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Crispy Fried Oysters

Serves 4

I love fried oysters, but most restaurants load them with batter or crumbs and the oysters are overcooked. They are so easy to make at home, especially if you purchase them already shucked. After trying many different crumbs, I found panko, which are Japanese breadcrumbs, to yield the best results, as they are very delicate and extra crispy. You should be able to find them in the baking aisle or Asian section of any grocery store. However, feel free to make this recipe with regular dried bread crumbs or cracker crumbs. They will still be very good.

No matter what you use for the coating, do not overcook the oysters. They should be hot, but still plump, and the outside golden and crispy. For frying, use large oysters, usually called 'select'.

Ingredients

Drain the oysters well. Pat dry with paper towels. Combine the flour, salt and pepper on one plate. Place the egg and milk in a bowl and whisk to combine. Place the panko crumbs on another plate. Set a rack on a small sheet pan. Dredge the oysters first in the flour, then the eggs, then the panko, shaking off any excess. Place on the rack. When all of the oysters are coated, place the pan in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to help the crumbs adhere.

Meanwhile, pour enough oil into a high-sided sauté pan to come up about 1-1/2 inches. Heat over medium-high until hot, about 360° F. (If you do not have a deep fry thermometer, submerge the handle end of a wooden utensil into the oil. If bubbles form around it, the oil is ready.) Fry the oysters in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan, until golden, about 3 minutes per side, adjusting temperature as needed if the oil gets too cool or hot. Remove with a slotted spoon or spider and place on a cooling rack to drain. Serve immediately with cocktail sauce, tartar sauce (see recipe in the similar and related recipes links) or, a Pennsylvania favorite, ketchup.

Notes: One pint of select oysters is about 2 dozen, depending on the size. You can shuck your own oysters, drain, and proceed with the recipe. If desired, save the juices and freeze for a seafood stew or chowder. The recipe can be made in any amount needed.