Forget the Calendar, Every Day is National Oyster Day!

That's me slurping an oyster in 2010 at Taylor Shellfish Farms in Samish Bay, Whatcom County
Photo courtesy Whatcom County Tourism

I'm a bit late in acknowledging that August 5 was National Oyster Day. According to legend, that 18th century cad Casanova dined on 50 of them each morning for breakfast. I'm not quite as keen on them as the C-Man was, am maybe good for only up to six -- usually enjoyed for lunch or dinner. And this week, I unknowingly indulged in the bivalve mollusks the day before National Oyster Day. Fortunately, where we live in Puget Sound (officially called the Salish Sea), seafood options are plentiful. Among my favorite local oysters are those from Taylor Shellfish Farms. Oh, yum! 
Oysters on the barby at Taylor Shellfish Farms at Samish Bay

Several years ago I visited Taylor Shellfish Farms' operation in Samish Bay, just south of Bellingham, WA. Along with a few other travel and food writers, we enjoyed a picnic on the beach with oysters fresh from the sea. Plus those goofy looking geoducks (great photo ops!) and crab. In fact I even learned how to properly shuck an oyster. Farmer Bob was duly impressed.

The table is set and ready for a lunch of fresh seafood, including oysters 

One of the things I brought home for Bob was The Joy of Oysters cookbook, written by Lori McKean and Bill Whitbeck ("A cookbook and guidebook for shucking, slurping and savoring nature's most perfect food."). It's a book he keeps referring to, especially one recipe in particular, which is below. Usually he serves the alleged aphrodisiacs with coleslaw, and when in season, fresh corn on the cob. What a summer treat!

Oyster Friters in Beer Batter
From The Joy of Oysters 
Serves 4 - 6

Serve these crispy fritters with wedges of lemon or lime and Jalapeno Tartar Sauce or Ginger Sweet & Sour Sauce. Let the batter sit at room temperature for one hour before using to release any air bubbles from the beer. Peanut oil is best for deep frying because it can be heated to higher temperatures without smoking.

24 medium oysters, shucked and drained
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup dark beer
1 egg white
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Peanut oil for deep-fat frying
Lemon or lime wedges

Into a mixing bowl, sift together 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk in the melted butter and the beaten egg. Gradually whisk in the beer, mixing just until the batter is fairly smooth. Do not over mix. Let the batter sit at room temperature, covered, for about 1 hour. Just before frying the oysters, beat the egg white until it forms stiff peaks when the beater is lifted out of the bowl. Gently fold the beaten white into the batter, mixing thoroughly. 

In a deep-fat fryer or deep skillet, heat 3 inches of peanut oil until it registers 375F on a thermometer. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup flour with the salt, pepper and cayenne. Dip the oysters in the flour, shaking off any excess flour, then dip the oysters in the batter. Let the excess batter drain off, then fry the oysters, 5 or 6 at a time, until they are puffed and golden brown, about 3-4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and keep warm in a 200F oven. Repeat until all the oysters have been friend. Serve hot. 

Recommended Beverages: Chilled Beer, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Champagne or Sparkling Wine.

Photos by Sue Frause


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