Breading (also known as “patting” when oysters are the food product being prepared) is the process of coating a food with a layer of crumbs, flour and/or corn meal prior to frying. Some foods this process is used for are chicken cutlets, chicken fried steak, fried oysters, fried cheese, and fried ice cream.
Regardless of the specific products being used or prepared the process is similar. One dredges the main ingredient with successive layers of a liquid and a dry material, creating an adherent coating that remains in place during the frying process.
Use your left hand for the wet ingredient and your right hand for the dry. This assumes you are right handed; reverse everything from this point on if you are left handed.
Have everything prepared and lined up before starting with your main ingredient on a plate to the far left and the various coatings moving from left to right in the order to be used. A small dish or cutting board to press the coating in on is helpful just to the right of all the coating bowls. End with the platter that the final product will rest on to your far right.
Then proceed to pick up your main item, dredge it in each bowl remembering left hand for wet bowls and right hand for dry bowls. Press the coating in with your right hand as you will end with a dry crumb of some sort. Place the breaded item on the far right platter and repeat until everything is breaded. At this point it is often helpful to refrigerate the breaded bits for a short while before frying to help the breading to adhere.
shaogo says re breading tips: I'd like to chime in a last bit about breading; if you shake the breaded items off before dipping in the hot oil you get fewer burnt bits at the bottom of the oil pot, resulting in better-flavored food from first piece to last. He also points out that *drying* the breaded items 'fore plunging them. (Refrigerate/dry: same thing) is one of the keys to crispiness!
La petite mort says re breading tips: also known as crumbing in some parts of the world. Crumbed and fried, nom nom!