After I got back from Jerry D's of Harford Road with mah urshters, I put the oysters, bag and all, in a large plastic bowl and shoved 'em into the fridge. Later on I flipped through John Shields' excellen Chesapeake Bay Cooking, even though the oysters were from North Carolina, which is almost close enough.
Lo and behold, the perfect idea! Chincoteague Single-Fried Oysters! The folks in Chincoteague just get Misty over their oysters.* And why not? It's like, well, like us getting misty over oysters, or crabs even more. Sadly I cannot reprint the recipe, but John says that the version in his cookbook comes from a local authority, Mrs. Alma Madanick, a "shining star of the Chincoteague culinary world" (Shields p. 72). I think I can at least say that the recipe calls for equal parts cracker meal (like crushed saltines) and flour for every pint of oysters. I had a quarter peck, which amounts to about 4 1/2 pints (a little over 2 quarts, or a half gallon - about 2.5 liters for those of you keeping track). That's before the oysters were shucked.
I didn't realize just how difficult it is to shuck an oyster, but after a while I was prying open one every minute. Yes, that's slow, okay? I ended up with about 12 to 15 oysters all told. All the while, two things ran through my head:
- I am actually taking a life here. Much like I am when I steam crabs. Part of the circle of life I guess. Just like what'll happen to all of us when the zombies come to get us...
- Damn, I should eat one of these on the half shell right now!
I also got about a quarter cup of the oyster liquor (don't ask me what fraction of a peck that is), and it is sitting in my freezer waiting for future uses.
As for the oysters themselves: I changed the recipe just a wee bit, reducing it to two parts flour, one part each cracker meal and corn meal, plus a generous sprinkling of Old Bay (of course). They were still very delicious, fried for three to five minutes in a shallow pan of hot corn oil until golden brown. Paired with those deviled green beans that I found earlier I was very happy. Sure, maybe next time I'll save myself the trouble and use pre-shucked oysters. But at least I now know I don't have to.
Shields, John. Chesapeake Bay Cooking (1998: Broadway Books, New York, NY)
* Please tell me you got that reference.