I’ve always thought of oysters as a special food to enjoy with a glass of crisp white wine, always raw, on the half shell with a little lemon wedge and perhaps a drop or two of Tabasco sauce.

In Korea, it’s a little different.  Oysters are not only eaten raw (perhaps dipped in a little gochujang and vinegar sauce), but it’s also used as an ingredient in many foods, no-less in the ubiquitous kimchi.  I was happy to find oysters are so plentiful in the winter that fresh oysters comes conveniently bagged in water, already shucked. When it’s plentiful, it is pretty cheap, only 2,300 won for 150g of oyster meat at the local E-mart.  You can also get wild oyster, a bit more expensive and smaller, but I prefer the farmed ones as they are meatier and juicier.

Lately it’s become a regular breakfast item because oysters are really nutritious, like a daily dose of vitamins and minerals.  Though you can’t beat raw oysters for the juicy, ocean brine flavour, serving it up pan-fried is a close second – think oyster omelets, a great banchan, or a salad topper – and as well, better chance of avoiding a bad case of food poisoning.

PAN FRIED OYSTERS (GUL-JEON)

  • 150g fresh oyster
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 green onion, sliced (optional)
  • ¼ tsp salt or to taste
  • vegetable oil for pan frying

1.  To clean the oysters, drain out the water and give the oysters a good rinse in salt water (use about 1 Tbsp of sea salt).  Rinse once or twice with fresh water (otherwise I find it too salty).  Drain well, and set aside.

2.  Prepare 2 separate dishes: one with flour and a pinch of salt mixed in, and second with an egg beaten with a pinch of salt.  Add the sliced green onion to the egg.

3.  One by one, dust both sides of the oysters in the flour, shake off excess, then dunk in the egg mix on both sides.

4.  In a heated pan, sear the battered oysters on medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side.   Alternatively, instead of doing it one by one, you can add several oysters on the pan together with the egg like an omelete.  Add an extra minute or two to heat through.

5.  You can serve it with typical Korean soy sauce dip if you want (1 Tbsp soy sauce, ¼ tsp apple vinegar, pinch of black pepper).

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