Oyster Po'Boys a la 1945

3:05 am on 3 March 2007


  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal (or fine polenta)
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne
  • 3 dozen shucked small oysters, drained
  • 1 litre vegetable oil
  • 1 loaf French bread
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 cups thinly sliced iceberg lettuce
  • Tabasco sauce to taste


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 180C.

Lightly beat together egg, milk, ½ teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper in a bowl. Whisk together flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and remaining teaspoon black pepper in a shallow baking dish. Whisk together cornmeal, remaining teaspoon salt, and cayenne in another shallow baking dish.

Dredge 8 oysters in flour, knocking off excess, then dip into egg mixture, letting excess drip off, and dredge in cornmeal mixture, knocking off excess, then coat remaining oysters in batches of 6 to 8 in same manner.

Heat oil in a 4ltr pot over high heat until a thermometer registers 180C.

While oil is heating, halve bread crosswise, then cut each piece in half horizontally, cutting all the way through. Put bread halves back together and heat bread in oven (directly on oven rack) until warm, about 5 minutes.

While bread is heating, gently drop one third of oysters into hot oil and fry, stirring occasionally, until golden, 45 seconds to 1 minute, then transfer to paper towels to drain. Fry remaining oysters in 2 batches in same manner, returning oil to 180C between batches.

Spread mayonnaise on cut sides of bread, then make sandwiches, topping lettuce with oysters. Halve each sandwich crosswise for a total of 4 sandwiches.

Makes 4 servings.

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan

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