Lakeview Seafood was an old joint on the older road to the even older lakefront fishing-camp community of Little Woods. Its owner, Charlie Smith, was a former Marine Corps baker who had an interesting idea. Instead of serving the traditional oyster loaf on French bread, he baked a standard loaf of white bread, cut off the top, hollowed it out, buttered the inside, and filled it with fried seafood. He called these “boats,” and they were a big hit. The restaurant is long gone, and–more’s the pity–so is the fried seafood boat.
Unless you make one yourself. The bread is usually available from supermarkets with in-house bakeries, or you can bake the loaves yourself. Cutting the hollow is easier if you freeze the loaf first, but that’s not necessary. You can also make this great oversized sandwich with shrimp, catfish, or even small soft shell crabs.
- 1 loaf unsliced white bread
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 2 Tbs. fresh chopped garlic
- 1 Tbs. chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
- 4 dozen medium oysters
- 1/2 cup Fish-Fri (corn flour)
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 Tbs. salt-free Creole seasoning
- 1 Tbs. salt
- Peanut oil for frying
1. Slice off the top half of the bread. Make a vertical cut about two inches deep around the top of the lower half of the loaf, about a half-inch from the sides. Push the part of the bread inside the cut down to make a pocket in the center.
2. In a saucepan, heat 1 Tbs. butter with the garlic and parsley. Cook until fragrant, then add the lemon juice and remove from the heat. Stir this into the remainder of the softened butter.
3. Coat the inside of the loaf and the top half of the loaf with the garlic butter. Toast the bread in a preheated 300-degree oven until the inside of the bread just starts to turn brown.
4. Pour peanut oil into a heavy pot or skillet, preferably cast iron. The oil should be an inch deep. Heat over medium-high heat to 375 degrees
5. Combine the corn flour, corn meal, Creole seasoning and salt in a large bowl and mix with a fork. Coat six oysters at a time by putting them, good and wet, into the bowl and tossing them in the mix.
6. Fry the oysters, a dozen at a time, until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels. Load them into the pocket of the toasted loaf. When all the oysters are inside, place the top of the loaf over the oysters, and serve with lemon wedges, hot sauce, and French fries.
Makes one oyster boat–enough for two people.