Crispy cornmeal breaded and fried oysters in a soft corn tortilla topped with a fabulous citrus salsa and avocado! Fried Oyster Tacos with Citrus Salsa may rock your idea of taco Tuesdays...
👩🏻🍳 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
~~ 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.
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- a variety of citrus (see Tips)
- fresno or jalapeno chiles
- sea salt and pepper
- salt and pepper
- coconut or vegetable oil
- corn tortillas
- lime wedges
- 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.
- Prepare taco toppings - Prep all garnishes. Place in appropriately sized bowls. Set aside.
- Fry the 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.
- 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!
💭 Tips and FAQ
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.
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.
In preparing the citrus, keep in mind supremes are nice, but not required!
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.
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. 😉
- make an assembly line of oysters drained and patted dry, egg and buttermilk wash, and cornmeal/salt mixture
- heat a fry pan with coconut or canola oil to between 350° and 375°
- dunk each oyster into the buttermilk wash before pressing gently into the cornmeal
- fry until golden then turn (about 2 minutes per side)
- drain on a thick layer of towels
- serve immediately with fresh citrus salsa and other toppings
🍷 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...
- 1 cup citrus, diced*
- 2 fresno or jalapeno chiles, finely minced
- 2 scallions, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- juice of 1, juicy lime
- several grinds sea salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tub of fresh oysters, well-drained*
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- several grinds pepper
- coconut or vegetable oil for frying*
- corn tortillas
- cabbage, very finely shredded
- lime wedges
- radishes, very thinly sliced
- cilantro leaves
- avocado, sliced
- 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.
- Prep all garnishes. Place in appropriately sized bowls.
- Set aside.
- 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.
- As shown in the photo, 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.
- * See Notes
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 lime for the juice portion of the recipe. The sweeter varieties work better in this recipe.
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.
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!
I will not pretend to give you macro nutrients on this dish. There are too many variables! My apologies!
Serving Size:3 tacos
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 500