I’ve eaten red tide oysters, and I do NOT recommend them!
After spending some time in France and learning about the delicacy of the raw oyster, it seemed to make sense to collect numerous oysters one summer years later, with my friend who was visiting from France. While camping on one of the islands, we came across a bed of oysters, so many in fact their whites changed the colour of the water. With our eyes bigger than our stomachs and our gluttony greater than our wits, we collected as many as we could and ate to our hearts’ content. And it was an idyllic and somewhat novel experience which had not been shattered until a few weeks later, when the effects of red tide set in. Red tide is a type of algae that is ingested by mollusks during the season they are in bloom. And when humans eat oysters, mussels, or clams during red tide season, they can get very sick. We were 20 years old and thought we knew it all. Well, let me tell you, I know better now!
That said, September is a safe month to eat oysters. An islander friend of mine, after sharing this story with him, told me to only eat oysters during the months that have an “R” in their name. In honour of the months of the year spelled with an “R” and the sustainability of farmed oysters, I give you this Cornmeal Crusted Oyster Burger recipe.
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1 lime, juice and zest of
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs Pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs, beaten and mixed with 1/4 cup milk
- 12 medium shucked oysters Vegetable oil
- 4 large burger buns, warmed
- 4 lettuce leaves
Sliced tomato and onion
Combine the mayonnaise, lime juice and zest, cilantro and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper in a bowl. Cover and keep in the fridge until the oysters are cooked.
Combine the cornmeal, breadcrumbs, pinch of cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper in a wide, shallow dish. Place the flour in another dish, and egg mixture in a third dish.
Drain the oysters well. Coat them first in the flour, shaking off the excess. Dip in the egg mixture, making sure they are evenly coated. Set in the cornmeal mixture, gently pressing onto the oysters.
Heat 1/8 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry the oysters for two minutes per side, until crispy, golden and just cooked through. If you are cooking in batches, keep the cooked oysters warm in a 200 F oven.
Spread the mayonnaise mixture on the burger buns. Place a lettuce leaf on the bottom of each bun. Top with 3 fried oysters and some tomato and onion slices. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings
Recipe Source: Everyone Can Cook Seafood by Eric Akis featured in the Vancouver Sun.