Memories of a trip to Charleston provide sublime inspiration
I’m pining for some old-fashioned travel. I don’t say that to belittle or undermine the necessary precautions we have taken to reduce the spread of COVID-19. I just miss exploring new places and indulging in new foods.
Like so many of you, we’ve basically stayed buckled down in place since this spring. But I miss poring through travel blogs for inspiration and collecting recommendations from friends, scouting airfares and calculating drive times. Most of all, I miss eating regional specialities and local delicacies of whatever far-off destination I find myself in.
Before the stay-in-place orders were issued, I spent some time in Charleston, South Carolina, with my husband. It’s a sublime city with a complex culinary heritage. We dined all over town and before we left, I purchased a local cookbook. I try to bring one home every time we land somewhere new; it’s my preferred souvenir.
Making these oyster sliders transports me back to the cobblestone streets of Charleston and takes the edge off my wanderlust. Over this simple dinner, my husband and I can reminisce and dream up new, tasty travels. Until then, this meal and my memories will just have to do.
This recipe easily translates to our Gulf Coast, thanks to the abundance of oysters in our local waters.
24 King’s Hawaiian Rolls, small variety
½ cup butter, room temperature
2 cups Brussels sprouts slaw, see recipe
24 fried oysters, see recipe
½ cup store-bought brown sugar barbecue sauce
¼ cup yellow mustard
24 bamboo cocktail picks
Slice the rolls in half and spread both cut sides with butter. Toast the rolls in a pan or griddle over medium heat.
Meanwhile, whisk together the barbecue sauce and mustard in a small bowl. Set aside.
Place a large spoonful of slaw on the bottom of each roll, top with a fried oyster and drizzle with the barbecue sauce mixture. Place the bun tops on the oysters and finish with a cocktail pick. Serve 3-4 sliders on each plate.
Brussels Sprouts Slaw
Servings: 8 as a side dish
1½ pounds Brussels sprouts, shredded
2 tablespoons white vinegar
¾ cup good mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons red onion, minced
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, more as needed
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2½ teaspoons celery salt
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Place Brussels sprouts and onion in a large bowl, tossing to combine. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, add the vinegar, mayonnaise, sour cream, sugar, mustard and celery salt. Whisk ingredients to thoroughly combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add about ¾ of the dressing to the Brussels sprouts and mix well. Taste again; add more dressing if needed along with additional salt, pepper or sugar, if desired.
Yields: 2 dozen
2 cups buttermilk
2½ cups yellow cornmeal
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
1 tablespoon kosher salt
About 3 pints shucked local oysters or 2 dozen individual oysters
Pour the buttermilk into a medium bowl. In another medium bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, Creole seasoning and salt. Whisk ingredients together to thoroughly combine.
Prepare a half-sheet tray by lining it with wax paper. Line a second tray with paper towels.
In a heavy bottom pot or sauté pan, bring at least 2 inches of oil to 375 F.
While the oil heats, drain the oysters and place them in the buttermilk. Remove each oyster individually, allowing the excess buttermilk to drip back into the bowl. Dredge each oyster in the cornmeal mixture and place on the wax paper-lined tray. Repeat with remaining oysters until they are all ready to fry.
Working in batches of 6, fry the oysters until golden brown. Remove them with a spider or slotted spoon and transfer to the paper-towel lined tray. Allow the oil to recover to temperature before frying the next batch. Serve right away.
Alicia Cahill is the owner of The Kitchen Chick, 2402 Market St. in Galveston.