It's an interesting and tragic development in the history of aquaculture that seaborne delights that were once so common as to be considered "peasant food" have become delicacies priced out of most budgets, more often than not. As an old story goes, lobster used to be so common in the Maritime provinces of Canada and the U.S.' New England that kids would trade in their "boring" lobster sandwiches for the luxury of peanut butter and jam.
Another story is how New York is a city founded and built up on oysters. Apparently these mollusks were so abundant that about 700 million were harvested from the Hudson River in 1880. Nowadays, there's not much chance anyone's eating anything out of the Hudson unless they're a fan of Hepatitis Rockefeller. Point being, oysters also have been one of the more common foodstuffs out there and been poor man's food. Which brings me to the "po' boy", a traditional Cajun sandwich served on a baguette, basically a kind of submarine. I had thought the name was some sort of reference to it being cheap food for the workin' man, but wikipedia is woefully unclear on the matter. Anyhoo, the Oyster Po' boy is one of the more common versions of this type of sandwich, even though most "poor boys" wouldn't be able to afford fresh oysters these days. There is a cheaper alternative though...
Smoked Oysters can be found tinned in any grocery store and supermarket and are often on special (usually they run about 3.50 Cdn a can, but they'll often be on sale for 2 bucks). Now, the smoked oysters you get in a can aren't the beautiful treats you get for 3-4 bucks a piece at oyster bars. Rather, they're a product of Chinese farming, but as it turns out, this is a sustainable form of production, so you can enjoy guilt-free! So, with that in mind, Kari suggested after sampling smoked oysters once, to try making an Oyster Po' boy using smoked oysters instead of fresh. After much delaying, I finally did just that for lunch one day!
Basically, I used a standard deep frying method to prepare the oysters, served it on hot dog buns, and topped it with a little twist on tartar sauce that used elements of tapenade, so I called it Taptar Sauce (clever, eh?).
Smoked Oyster Po' Boy
- 1 can smoked oysters (yields about 8-10 oysters)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup panko or other bread crumbs
- oil for frying (at least 1/2 inch deep)
- 2 hot dog buns
- 2 lemon wedges
- First, drain and rinse oysters. I find using a wire strainer is the easiest and cleanest way to do this.
- Next, using a spatula, gently flatten oysters. Don't force anything or you might ruin the oysters.
- Whisk egg and milk together.
- Coat oysters, first in flour, then in egg mixture, then in panko. Try only using one hand to actually coat the oysters so as to not get both hands super-messy.
|Ready for frying|
- In a large pan or pot, heat oil until ready for frying (allow a drop of water to fall into oil; if it sizzles, it's ready).
- Fry oysters until crispy and golden on both sides (about 1 minute each side).
- Drain oysters on paper towel and keep warm under foil.
|A crispy thing of beauty|
- Next, make the "Taptar" Sauce:
- 2 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced (or pressed)
- 1/2 tsp capers, finely minced
- 1/2 tsp kalamata olives, finely minced
- pinch smoked paprika
- juice of 1/4 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
- Stir all ingredients together until smoothly blended
- Toast hot dog buns if you want (I just put them in the toaster).
- Spread Taptar Sauce on halves of buns.
- Split oysters between buns and serve with lemon wedge.
|Not bad for canned seafood!|
And that's the "Po' Man's Po' Boy". It was actually really tasty and fun, with a good balance of smoky, fishy and crispy, not to mention the extra zing and salt from the sauce. All in all, a pretty good way to try out something that might normally be cost prohibitive, albeit in a lesser form.