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  • Writer's pictureHonest Cooks

Corn Oysters: A Recipe from the first African American Woman Chef's Cookbook (1881)

Lost Recipes of USA, Episode 2: Corn Oysters



Trying to find the perfect appetizer for your next dinner party? You don't need to look any further, because this lost recipe from Mrs. Abby Fisher's 1881 Cookbook is here! Mrs. Abby Fisher is the first African- American Cookbook Author and her book "What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking" is a gem to add to your cookbook collection. Honest Cooks found a delicious corn oyster appetizer that can be whipped up in no time at all.


If you think you know everything there is to know about corn fritters, then it's time for a history lesson. In 1881, Mrs. Abby Fisher published an entire cookbook of recipes that are so fun and stand the test of time to this day!




To note here is that this 1881 Cookbook is not the first mention of Corn Oysters that we could find. Corn Oysters are also mentioned in a much earlier cookbook from 1819 titled "The Hammond Harwood House Cookbook". Some of the early renditions of the recipe we are making today used Green corn, which would resemble the taste of oysters. That’s why some of these recipes are called Mock Oysters, Corn Oysters, or Summer Oysters!

To enhance the flavor of our Corn Oysters today, we have paired them with a lip smacking chili sauce. This sauce takes this appetizer to a whole other level!




The recipe mentioned here is a modernized version of the recipe from Mrs. Fisher's 1881 Cookbook. We modified it to fit with the modern day ingredients and equipment.


Ingredients:

To make the Corn Oysters, you need:

  • 2 corn ears: husk and silk removed

  • 1/4 cup AP Flour

  • 1/4 cup Corn Starch

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1/8 tsp Baking powder

  • Salt and Pepper, to taste (I used 1/4 tsp salt & pepper)

  • ~ 1 quart of cooking oil to fry

Before you begin:

  • If you are making the Chili Sauce and Corn Oysters both, start with the sauce first. It will need some simmering time. This way you can have the sauce cooking in the back while you work on the Corn Oysters. To make the sauce, follow this recipe.

  • For the Corn Oysters, you will need to use fresh corn. Frozen corn does not work at all. Read my notes for more.



Steps:

  1. To make the batter we'll grate the corn using the larger holes on a box grater. Make sure you have a deep plate or a large mixing bowl under to catch all the juices.

  2. Save all pulp and squeeze out all the juices from the cobs by running a pairing knife on the cobs.

  3. If you are not already using a mixing bowl, transfer everything into a bowl and add all the other ingredients, except the oil that is for frying the Corn Oysters.

  4. Pour the cooking oil in a heavy bottom pot and keep it to heat up while you make the batter.

  5. Now, it is time to mix all of this together. You can use a whisk. But I recommend doing this by hand so you can make sure there are no lumps and you don't overmix the batter.

  6. The batter needs to be flowing and pouring consistency.

  7. When your oil is heated to ~350 degree Fahrenheit, carefully pour the batter spoonful by spoonful into the hot oil. Be sure to pour in the direction away from you to avoid oil splatter.

  8. Cook for ~2 minutes. Then, flip and cook till the Corn Oysters are a beautiful golden color on both sides.

  9. Strain on paper towels or a cooling rack.

  10. Serve hot with chili sauce.

To summarize, these are the steps you need to follow:





Notes:

  • Using Fresh Corn is important: - In a previous trial I used frozen corn. I ground it into a paste straight from the freezer, using a food processor. When I made the batter, it was too watery. - Adding extra flour and corn starch made the batter doughy. The taste was no where close to what it was with the fresh corn. - Even with the extra flour, the batter became watery while it sat as I was frying the first batch, around 12 minutes. So the batter with the frozen corn did not hold for even 15 odd minutes. - When I did not add the excess flour, the batter splattered a lot in the hot oil and the fritters did not hold shape in the oil.

  • Keep the oil between 350 and 360 degree Fahrenheit: - Heating the oil above 360F makes the Corn Oysters brown on the outside way too quickly. The inside was still wet and undercooked. Make sure to keep the oil between 350 and 360F.

  • Pair your Corn Oysters with this lip smacking Chili Dipping Sauce. This sauce is made with fresh vegetables. You can either make it by cooking procedures on a stovetop OR you can follow canning procedures mentioned in the blog about this Chili Dipping Sauce here.

Follow this video for visual steps:





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