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Calabash Fried Oysters Recipe

Follow our easy, step-by-step, photo illustrated instructions to learn how to make our Calabash Style Fried Oysters in your home kitchen. Great recipe from my seafood restaurant days. Printable recipe included.

This is how we fried our oysters back when I managed the kitchen for my brothers seafood restaurant. It’s really super simple. Calabash style means “lightly breaded and lightly fried.” Give them a try soon.

Calabash Fried Oysters, slider.

There was a time when folks would only eat raw oysters in months that had an “R” in it. In other words, stay away from them during the summer. But, those days are pretty much gone now and folks all over enjoy fresh oysters all year around.

There’s a lot behind the “R” month theory, but  we will not go into that now for it would take a while to explain.

Here in North Carolina, our WILD oyster season generally runs October thru March, so our season will be opening in just a few days from the date of this writing. Thankfully though, we have many oyster farmers in our areas that grow oysters in bags or cages, and we can enjoy them all year around.

This is yet another recipe in a series of recipes that I’ve placed here on Taste of Southern based on my days as the kitchen manager for my brothers seafood house restaurant from back in the 80’s. I helped him open his “Captain Gordon’s Seafood Restaurant,” back then and I managed the kitchen for the first couple of years the restaurant was in business.

I’ll post a link to some of the other recipes I’ve included in this series down below. I’ve done Creamy Cole Slaw, Fried Catfish, Calabash Fried Shrimp, Hushpuppies and this one for Calabash Fried Oysters as a few examples.

Calabash style basically means the seafood is “lightly breaded and lightly fried.” It comes from a style of cooking seafood from a little city down near our state line with North Carolina and South Carolina, just a few miles away from the popular travel destination of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Oysters are not cheap. I enjoy them every chance I get, but not as often as I would like. Smile.

You can buy fresh oysters, still in the shell, from your local fish monger, or you can often find pint containers of shucked oysters in your local grocery store in many places. Either will work find.

They’re really simple and easy to prepare following our restaurant recipe. They’re super delicious and I hope you’ll enjoy them often.

Ready to give our recipe a try? Alright then, let’s head on out to the kitchen, and… Let’s Get Cooking!

Calabash Fried Oysters, ingredients you'll need.

Calabash Fried Oysters Recipe – You’ll need these ingredients.

I’m using fresh oysters because I’m only making a few for myself. You can certainly use shucked oysters like you’ll find in a container in most of your local grocery stores.

We bought shucked oysters in gallon sized containers back in the restaurant days. We thought paying 30-35 dollars for a gallon was pretty expensive back then. Have you priced any oysters lately? About 3 times that much today in my area.

Calabash Fried Oysters, rinse the oysters.

If you’re using fresh oysters, place them in a colander and rinse them well under cold running water.

Calabash Fried Oysters, pop them open.

You’ll need a oyster knife to pry open the oysters. Just be careful. I’ve never been very good at this to begin with, but these were some of the hardest oysters to try and open that I think I’ve ever encountered. Smile.

By the time I’d opened the second one of the dozen I had purchased, I might have been wishing I’d just bought a pint of oysters already shucked. But, I made it through.

I realize oysters are an acquired taste, just like many other foods. This is the way I like to enjoy them if I’m going to eat them raw. Place the oyster on a saltine cracker and pour on a bit of Texas Pete Hot Sauce. Oh that’s good.

My brother use to sample raw oysters straight out of the gallon bucket whenever we got a new order in. I’d flinch and draw up just watching him because I could not eat them that way.

It took many years later for me to ever try one raw. Since then, I’ll eat a couple of them raw, but they taste best to me when they are fried. How about you?

Calabash Fried Oysters, an hour later.

This is about an hour later. It really did take me a while to get them all open. They were closed up tight for sure.

If you’re using shucked oysters, place the oysters and some of the liquid in a small container.

Calabash Fried Oysters, baby crab.

Look! One of the oysters had a baby crab inside the shell. Some folks prize these to eat as well. I might have just passed on that. Smile.

Calabash Fried Oysters, add some milk.

Coat the oysters in the evaporated milk. I did pour off some of the liquid so the oysters would hold on to more of the milk. And, be sure you’re using Evaporated Milk for best results.

Calabash Fried Oysters, add flour.

Place one cup of flour in a small mixing bowl.

We kept our dredging flour in a large restaurant bus pan back in the day.

Calabash Fried Oysters, add the corn meal.

Add 1/4 cup of Corn Meal to the flour.

Calabash Fried Oysters, add salt.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Always start out light with the salt. You can fry up an oyster to see if you’d like to add more. You don’t want to over salt these. Testing also gives you an excuse to eat a fried oyster before you serve them to the family or guests. Smart thinking don’t you think?

Calabash Fried Oysters, mix well.

Grab a fork or whisk and mix all the ingredients together.

Calabash Fried Oysters, add the oysters.

Place a few of the oysters into the mixture. Use your hand and toss the oysters around until fully coated with flour.

Calabash Fried Oysters, shake off any excess flour.

Lift them out and shake off any excess flour.

At the restaurant, we had a shaker basket that we kept in the flour. We would toss the oysters around to coat them, then place them in the shaker basket and gently shake off the excess flour. From there, we tossed them into the fryer.

Calabash Fried Oysters, place in hot oil.

At home, I use a small sauce pot and fill it just under halfway full with cooking oil. I’m using canola oil here because it handles high heat better. Bring the oil up to 350F degrees for frying and drop in a few of the oysters at a time.

At the restaurant, we fried all of our foods in pure lard that we bought in 50 pound boxes. It gave the fish, seafood and hushpuppies really great flavor, but you have to make sure you’re getting it to the customer while it’s still hot. You can’t let food sit around and cool or the customer will start tasting the lard in the food. Kind of a greasy texture.

Calabash Fried Oysters, stir gently.

Stir them around a bit once they start floating to the top. They only need a minute to cook. You are now just watching for them to get a light golden color on them and they’re done.

Calabash Fried Oysters, remove when done.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the oysters when they are lightly colored.

Place the oysters on a wire rack if you have it. Or, place them on a piece of brown paper bag. Paper towels make your fried foods a bit soggy in my opinion.

Calabash Fried Oysters, serve hot.


Serve them up while they are still nice and hot. I love these things and could eat a plate full.

At the restaurant, we served what we called the Captains Combo Platter. It came with fried fish, shrimp, oysters, deviled crab, French fries or baked potato, Cole slaw and of course – hushpuppies. We piled it high on the plate and it was one of our biggest sellers. You could also add clam strips and scallops for a little bit extra.

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