Whether raw or roasted, grilled or baked, laid in po'boys or swimming in stews and gumbo, the oyster is omnipresent in the Gulf states. According to the Gulf Oyster Industry Council, the area produces more than 500 million pounds of in-shell oysters each year.
Stoops, who especially likes Gulf oysters early in the season, when cool weather makes them fat and sweet, suggests turning them into the centerpiece of Hoy Tod, a Thai-style omelet. "In Thailand, it's cooked on a large surface similar to a pancake griddle," says Stoops. "At home, I generally use a cast-iron skillet." Don't try it with a wok; you need a flat cooking surface.
Thai Fried Oysters (Hoy Tod) (serves 4)
- 1/4 cup tempura flour
- 1 cup rice flour
- 1/4 corn starch
- 1-2 cups ice water
- thinly sliced green onion to taste
- salt and pepper to taste
- equal parts Thai hot chili sauce and Thai sweet chili sauce
- about 1 cup shucked oysters, drained (this amount may be altered according to taste)
- 1 egg, beaten
- handful of bean sprouts
For the base, mix dry ingredients together well. Add enough water to form a thin batter. The batter should approximate a thin tempura batter. (Don't worry if it's not exactly right; the dish is forgiving.) Add scallions, then oysters. Heat the griddle or skillet on just over medium heat. Add enough oil to coat well. More oil will result in a crispier product obviously, but less oil is perfectly acceptable. When the pan is hot, pour in the batter. It'll start cooking more or less like a pancake. After a few seconds, drizzle in the beaten egg, and stir things up a bit to distribute. Add the bean sprouts, continue cooking until the bottom gets crispy. Flip it over. It's OK if it breaks into a couple of pieces. After the other side crisps, break up the omelet as you would hashbrowns. Serve garnished with cilantro. Sauce in a separate bowl.