I know. I know. We’re not supposed to fry. The fat. The calories. The bad stuff. But every now and again you need a little crunch in your life and these Mini Fried Oyster Po’ Boys will give you just that. Crispy, crunchy life. How do we create this life-giving crisp? We pan fry. (Insert gasp here.) Let’s put our nutritional finger-wagging aside in honor of the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras and Friday, so we can all make these Po’ Boys.
Po’ Boys Make the Best Sandwiches
Can we talk a minute about the glory of the Po’ Boy? Some genius decided to make a super sub sandwich with French bread. You know the stuff – crusty on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. Our friend genius filled that French bread with delectables like fried seafood, chicken, roast beef or, in this case, oysters. Throw in lettuce, tomato, pickles, onions and mayo and you’re in business.
How to Pan Fry
But back to the crunch. Pan-frying is the middle-ground of frying, right between sautéing and deep-frying. Think moderate amount of oil and medium heat. Unlike deep-frying where food is completely submerged in oil, or sautéing where food is cooked at a high temperature with minimal oil, with pan frying the oil should come about a third of the way up the sides of the food.
Since most pan-fried foods, including our oysters here, are coated before frying it’s important to make sure your oil’s not too hot or your food will be overcooked on the outside and undercooked inside. (Are you using the right oil? Check here.) If the oil is not hot enough, the oysters will absorb the oil. If it’s too hot you run the risk of the oil literally blowing your coating off as soon as it hits the oil.
Pan-fried foods are often coated or breaded to help seal in juices and create a crisp texture. When you remove food from the oil, give them a few minutes to drain on a plate or sheet tray lined with paper towels. (Check out my Technique Tip Sheet on frying to learn more.)
Back to the Oysters at Hand
Oysters are tricky. If they’re perfectly pan-fried, they’re crisp on the outside but still soft and moist in the center. Cook them too long and they morph into tiny hockey pucks; underdone and you risk a bad case of food poisoning. (Only purchase oysters from a store or vendor you trust implicitly.) Combine that with our zippy remoulade (that’s fancy talk for fancy mayo), lettuce, sliced tomatoes and red onion and you, my friend, have yourself a Po’ boy. My mini versions are an insanely delicious bite of New Orleans-style goodness, perfect for a party. (Insert celebration here.)
Mix the remoulade to your taste. You can make it as spicy (or not) as you like.
Don’t overcrowd your pan when frying your oysters. Cooking many at one time will lower the temperature of your oil. You’ll end up with oily oysters that won’t crisp or brown properly.