Fried Oyster Tacos

These Fried Oyster Tacos feature crunchy cornmeal breaded and fried oysters topped with a bright and colorful citrus salsa, avocado slices, radishes, and shredded cabbage… These tacos are a unique and tasty option for #TacoTuesday or anytime!

Fried Oyster Tacos with citrus salsa on a white square plate with a print napkin.

👩🏻‍🍳 Tamara Talks – Recipe Inspiration

I seem to be “on a roll” writing about polarizing foods… beets, lamb, lengua, and now oysters.  😆 I dare say lukewarm responses to them are the exception rather than the rule! Fried Oyster Tacos With Citrus Salsa (in all likelihood) either sounds beyond amazing or absolutely disgusting…

I decided that with Valentine’s Day fast upon us, this would be the perfect time to bring you the recipe for these delicious and unique tacos. You do know oysters really are aphrodisiacs, right?

You needn’t tell me that a man who doesn’t love oysters and asparagus and good wines has got a soul, or a stomach either. He’s simply got the instinct for being unhappy highly developed.

~~ Hector Hugh Munro, British novelist

The first time I had fried oyster tacos was at a restaurant in McAllen called La Jaiba – a Mexican seafood restaurant. I rarely indulge in fried food of any sort, but I grew up in a household that adored oysters, and especially fried oysters! When I saw them on the menu, well, what can I say? I had to have them!

Fast forward to January 10 – our last meal with our family visiting for the holidays… It was Sunday funday, and a special meal was in order. I have mentioned their call for “lots of seafood.” Fresh oysters are not available in Las Cruces or Lodi, so I bought 2 tubs of fresh oysters, and got creative…

I had not made a citrus salsa prior to January of this year. Citrus salsa on seafood tacos is spectacular… if I do say so myself. I have made salsa with mangoes, stone fruit, chiles (of course), etc., but never citrus.

Citrus and seafood are so perfect together, though, so I decided to give it a whirl. Citrus truly shines in the Rio Grande Valley near the Gulf of Mexico. During the winter months, the selection (and price) is phenomenal; the choices range from tiny kumquats to the giant pummelo. Blood oranges and cara cara oranges must be my personal favorites. Citrus salsa is a perfect pairing with this fried oyster taco recipe!

📋 Oyster Taco Ingredients Notes

Citrus Salsa

  • citrus – Winter is citrus season in south Texas. I’ve made this citrus salsa with combinations of pummelo, grapefruit, oranges, clementines, tangerines, blood oranges, cara cara oranges. I would save limes for the juice portion of the recipe. The sweeter varieties work better in this recipe.
  • chile peppers – I prefer Fresno chiles in this recipe, but I cannot always get them. My market always has red jalapeños, and they’re pretty awesome too. Green jalapeños, serranos, and habaneros (if you like the heat!) will work. Choose fresh chiles rather than dried or canned. This Chile Pepper Guide is extensive.
  • cilantro
  • limes
  • sea salt and pepper

Fried Oysters

  • oysters – I get shucked fresh oysters in a tub at my local market. I think they’re preferable to canned, but canned will be delicious as well. It is difficult to provide a number or weight for the oysters. We had medium-sized oysters, and allowed 2 per taco. One would be sufficient if the oysters are large, and 3 if they’re really tiny. The tub may indicate number and size on the package. One-half pound drained should be sufficient for 2 people.
  • egg
  • buttermilk – You can substitute milk if necessary.
  • cornmeal
  • salt and pepper
  • oil – You need to use a high smoke point oil like coconut or vegetable oil.

Tacos

  • corn tortillas – Yes, you can use flour tortillas if you prefer them!
  • cabbage
  • lime wedges
  • radishes
  • cilantro
  • avocado

🔪 Instructions

Ingredients for citrus salsa before mixing…
Prepare the buttermilk and cornmeal mixtures…
Coat the oysters before frying…
  1. Make the salsa – Zest the citrus, then remove pith (and membranes if desired).* Dice. Combine all ingredients in a (salsa-sized) bowl. Stir well to combine. If your lime is dry, you may want to squeeze a second one. Set aside.
  2. Prepare taco toppings – Prep all garnishes. Place in appropriately sized bowls. Set aside.
  3. Fry the oysters – Whisk buttermilk and egg together in a shallow bowl. Combine cornmeal, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl. make an assembly line of oysters drained and patted dry, egg and buttermilk wash, and cornmeal/salt mixture. Heat oil to about 375°. Dip each oyster in egg/buttermilk mixture, and then into the cornmeal. Coat the oyster on all sides. Carefully drop them into the hot oil. Repeat with remaining oysters. As oysters brown, gently turn them. Oysters cook quickly. 1 to 2 minutes per side in hot oil should be about right. Drain the cooked oysters on a few layers of paper towels.
  4. Assemble tacos – I like to use lime wedges between tacos for serving. On a warmed corn tortilla, place a small amount of shredded cabbage. Top with 1-3 oysters (depending on size). An overstuffed taco will tear apart. Add a spoonful of citrus salsa and the remaining garnishes as desired. Enjoy!
Breaded and fried oysters, cabbage, citrus salsa, tortillas, and avocado.
Ingredients for oyster tacos ready to be assembled.

❓ FAQ

What kind of citrus should I use?

I have made this citrus salsa with pummelos, tangerines (clementines), Texas ruby red grapefruit, cara cara oranges, and blood oranges in different combinations. All were delicious! My suggestion is to choose the best quality citrus available at your market. Lime and lemon juice are fine in the salsa, but you’ll want sweeter citrus fruit for the diced citrus.

Does the citrus salsa keep leftover?

Yes. We store it covered in the refrigerator for 1-2 days. I will eat it plain, alongside beans, or with chips.

💭 Tips for the Best Oyster Tacos

I always make my salsa first. This allows the flavors to marry. The exception might be avocado salsas, though they will keep long enough to get the taco ingredients ready if they include lime or lemon juice.

In preparing the citrus, keep in mind supremes are nice, but not required!

About the tortillas – We prefer soft corn tortillas warmed in a tortilla warmer. If you prefer your tortillas fried, then by all means, fry them.  I won’t tell. 😉

A deep fryer will provide the best results, but I don’t usually want to use that much oil and then have to clean my counter top appliance afterward. I have found that about 1/2″ oil in a heavy fry pan (ie. cast iron) works well. Use good tongs to turn the oysters, and be very careful to not get the oil so hot that the breading burns. Conversely, oil that is not hot enough will result in greasy oysters!

🍷 Pairing Suggestions

We enjoy our fried oyster tacos with a dry rosé from California’s Central Coast wine region – Sterling Vintner’s Collection Central Coast 2014 Rosé. This crisp rosé, made in the French saignée method, is bright with strawberry and cherry aromas and fresh citrus flavors… Its citrus flavors complement the oysters and citrus salsa beautifully.

If you prefer a craft beer, try pairing the tacos with a farmhouse saison or citrus IPA.

Fried Oyster Tacos With Citrus Salsa for two makes a lovely and unique Valentine’s Day dinner in my opinion.  😛 I’m guessing some will be reading this post with skepticism or even dismay! Filet mignon and baked potato might be more mainstream. I’d love to hear your thoughts on oysters, and what you have planned with your love on Valentine’s Day…

Signature in red and green with chiles and limes. Healthyish Latin cuisine.

Fried Oyster Tacos with Citrus Salsa close up square photo.

Fried Oyster Tacos With Citrus Salsa ~ For 2

Crunchy cornmeal breaded and fried oysters are adorned with a bright and colorful citrus salsa, avocado slices, radishes, and shredded cabbage… Perfect for your Valentine or date night!
5 from 8 votes

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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Eclectic
Servings 2 servings
Calories 548 kcal

Ingredients
  

Citrus Salsa

  • 1 cup mixed citrus, diced - see Ingredients in post
  • 2 fresh Fresno or jalapeno chiles, minced - see Ingredients in post
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced - or 2 if not juicy
  • sea salt and ground pepper - to taste

Fried Oysters

  • ½ pound oysters, drained
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • vegetable oil, for frying

Taco Garnishes

  • corn tortillas
  • cabbage, shredded
  • citrus salsa
  • avocado
  • radishes
  • cilantro
  • lime wedges

Instructions

Citrus Salsa

  • Zest the citrus, then remove pith (and membranes if desired).* Dice.
  • Combine all ingredients in a (salsa-sized) bowl. Stir well to combine. If your lime is dry, you may want to squeeze a second one. Set aside.

Garnishes

  • Prep all garnishes. Place in appropriately sized bowls.

Fried Oysters

  • Whisk buttermilk and egg together in a shallow bowl.
  • Combine cornmeal, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl.
  • Heat oil to about 375 degrees.
  • Dip each oyster in egg/buttermilk mixture, and then into the cornmeal. Coat the oyster on all sides. Carefully drop them into the hot oil. Repeat with remaining oysters.
  • As oysters brown, gently turn them. Oysters cook quickly. 1 to 2 minutes per side in hot oil should be about right. Drain the cooked oysters on a few layers of paper towels.

To Assemble

  • On a warmed corn tortilla, place a small amount of shredded cabbage. Top with 1-3 oysters (depending on size). An overstuffed taco will tear apart.
  • Add a spoonful of citrus salsa and the remaining garnishes as desired.

Notes

See this article for help removing citrus pith.
I will not pretend to give you macro nutrients on this dish. There are too many variables! However, using 5 ounces of fried oysters, 3 taco-sized small corn tortillas, 1/2 cup shredded cabbage, and 3 tablespoons of citrus salsa, I come up with 548 calories. IT IS JUST FOR REFERENCE!

Nutrition

Calories: 548kcal

NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a comment and/or star rating! Email us with any questions: tamara@beyondmeresustenance.com

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Original photo from 2016…

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29 Comments

  1. Anxious to try these. I had some in Apalachicola, FL that were heavenly. One question, what’s a tub of oysters. If I go to the local seafood market and ask for a tub of oysters, will I get the right amount? Your directions seem easy to follow and the great pictures help.
    Thanks

    1. Thank you for your question Nancy! I do have a note at the bottom of the recipe card, but it could be better highlighted. Oysters come in so many sizes from small to large. I find an 8 ounce tub works well for my husband and me. I guess that works out to about 4 ounces of oysters per person. We each eat 3 tacos with 2-3 oysters per taco (depending on size). See the notes at the bottom of the card for more information, and I’ll try to update the post to be more clear! I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

  2. This is new! Have never had a fried oyster tacos – Po boy yes, taco no. I’ve never even seen it on a menu. What a great taco! Your pictures are mouthwatering!

    1. My husband posted a comment on Facebook about these tacos – “They’re so far outside the box, you can’t even see the box.” Lol. He’s so supportive! You’d be surprised how good they are. 🙂

  3. Fried oysters in tacos?! Holy perfect! We love this creative and mouthwatering idea; thanks so much for sharing!

  4. SERIOUSLY!!!! My mouth is totally watering just looking at those pics!!! Thank You for sharing how to make those!! MMMMMMMM!!!

    1. Lol 🙂 I guess you think it looks good! I guess you probably don’t get fresh oysters, so if you’ll just come to my house, I’ll make you some… Love you Connie!

    1. We are blessed to have an abundance of beautiful citrus in winter here in McAllen, but it was 87 degrees yesterday! I’m still in shock. I just moved to south Texas a few months ago, and they really don’t have winter. Stay warm!