New Oyster Beach

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After putting it off for as long as possible, we finally had to go into town to buy Skyla a new pair of tennis shoes. An hour of The Hell That Is Shoe Shopping, and we clearly needed a breath (or 50) of fresh air. So we decided to check out a nearby beach that I’d heard had oysters. Weather was marginal, and we had to be back for a kid sleepover, so I thought we’d just squeeze in a quick walk down the beach to scout it out.

But maybe I was just telling myself–and the kids–that to manage expectations. After all, the tide just happened to be hitting full low when we arrived. And I did have a couple oyster knives, a bucket, plastic containers and knee boots in the car. You know, just in case.

Good thing, too. A hundred yards from where we parked, we found oysters on top of oysters. We shucked enough for dinner and a few leftovers, then made some quick test digs for steamer clams (plenty there) and hit the road home. Grabbed a pizza for the kids sleepover party on the way and made it home just in time. Monday night, when it was just us, we broke out the flour, eggs and panko for a serious oyster fry. And felt lucky that somewhere between shoe shopping and sleepovers, we found time to gather a meal.

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Golden Goodness

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Ah, the crispy, crunchy, briny treat of pan-fried, fresh-from-the-beach oysters. One of my favorite meals, and something we always look forward to in late winter. This year, we couldn’t wait and started early. I’m not sure if it’s the cooler water and air (beach oysters spend part of most low tides exposed to the elements) or just our craving, but these tasted even cleaner and firmer than usual.

I like to cook them Japanese style, or kaki furai, as my grandmother might have said. After a thorough rinsing to remove bits of sand and shell, I pat the oysters dry and season lightly with garlic salt and cracked pepper. Then I roll ’em in a mix of flour and cornmeal, dip in egg wash and cover them with panko, the Japanese bread crumbs. If you haven’t cooked with panko, it creates the crispiest, lightest crust on anything you might want to fry. And if you have, well, then you already know what I’m talking about.

Stacy makes three dipping sauces. My favorite is a mix of soy sauce, lemon juice and wasabi. I’m also partial to a horseradish-worcestershire-ketchup cocktail sauce. Stacy likes the sweet-pickle relish tartar. For Weston, we make a cocktail sauce minus the horseradish. Skyla likes them best straight up. We plowed through about three limits at dinner (we picked small ones) and I’ve been eating the rest on sandwiches and just dipped in sauce for breakfast and lunch ever since. Awesome.