Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Hangtown Fry

Ever since my parents moved to within shouting distance of the Sierra foothills, I have been obsessed with a dish called "Hangtown Fry." The origins of the dish are somewhat mysterious, but the likeliest explanation is that some 49er who struck it rich barged into a saloon in Hangtown (now Placerville) and asked for the most expensive meal possible; in those days, oysters were carted in from the coast in barrels of seawater and eggs seem to have been fairly precious. The saloonkeeper came up with the Hangtown Fry: basically an omelet made with eggs, bacon and fried oysters. The cost back then was six dollars, an astronomical sum.

Anyway, on various visits west, I have attempted to have the Hangtown Fry. I even made Mom drive me to Placerville to have it, but the destination cafe was closed and we ended up having sad hamburgers in some lame lunch spot.

All these years later, I finally got around to trying it myself and here are the results. Since it's June and I'm inland, I used canned oysters.

First, fry three strips of bacon until just short of crispy. Set aside. Dip oysters in an egg/milk combo and then dredge in bread crumbs. Fry until just golden. Remove. Add bacon back to pan in parallel stripes. Put the equivalent of one egg on the bacon. Let set just a bit. Add fried oysters, then add two more eggs. Let set, then fold in half, like an omelet. Then cover and let steam for a minute or two. Then take a bite and cry. This is one great dish, people. JUST EAT IT.

And yes, that is a scorch mark on the edge of my counter, an unfortunate remnant from a mis-wokking.


lewarkk said...

MMMmmm, buddy. I eats mah hangtown fry at the in Point Reyes, Marin County, California.

Love oysters in most guises. Have you noticed how there's often a regional oyster specialty? In NOLA there are many (e.g., on the halfshell, oysters Bienville, poorboy); in NYC its also on the halfshell and the milky stew; out here in CaliforniaLand there are lots of ways but BBQ is high on the list. You can get a mighty fine oyster sandwich at
Duarte's in Pescadero.

lewarkk said...

So, how do I edit?

DG Strong said...

"It is not possible to edit comments. If you want to edit your own comment, you can simply delete it and then re-enter it with the changes. (However, the timestamp will be modified to reflect the time of the new comment.)"

Brian said...

Hey Kat, DG: I've been a fan of hangtown fry for sometime. Eggs have such an affinity for oysters. I fry packaged oysters, but living here I can get fresh ones much of the year. Saute, pancetta and onions, one egg for the base, add a few fresh oysters and top with a couple seasoned eggs. Different texture and more of an oyster flavor.