AT STEELHEAD DINER, Louisiana-raised chef Kevin Davis pays tribute to Pacific Northwest ingredients by adding what he knows best: the taste of New Orleans. He starts with meaty, plump Totten Inlet Virginica oysters, which he fries in a spicy batter and then piles on a soft bun. If you’re shuck-shy, opt for Taylor Shellfish’s shell-free oysters, on sale at University District and Ballard farmers markets (seattlefarmersmarkets.org).
Makes: 4 big sandwiches
Total Time: 30 minutes
4 long, soft sandwich buns
1 cup mayonnaise
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Sliced dill pickle
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp white pepper
8 ounces clarified butter or ghee
24 Totten Inlet Virginica oysters, shucked
2 cups buttermilk
Slice buns in half lengthwise. Mix mayonnaise with hot sauce to taste, and spread on the buns. Pile with lettuce, tomato, and pickles, and set aside.
Whisk together flour, salt, and both types of pepper in a bowl. In a large, heavy-gauge saute pan, warm half the clarified butter over medium-high heat. Place the oysters in a bowl with the buttermilk, stir to coat, then transfer half the oysters to the flour mixture, turning each to coat well.
When the butter is hot, shake oysters to remove excess flour and carefully place in pan (oysters shouldn’t touch). Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip oysters and continue cooking until golden brown on second side, about another 3 minutes. Transfer oysters to a plate lined with paper towels. Pour off the butter and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel. Add the remaining butter to the pan, then flour and fry the remaining 12.
Pile 6 oysters into each sandwich while they are hot, season with salt, pepper, and additional hot sauce, and serve immediately.