by Owen Lightly (with photos from Michael Sider) | I have a thing for oysters. When I think about them, I get this tingly feeling deep in the pit of my stomach and can’t help but smile. Whether they’re served raw, fried, stewed, broiled or grilled, it doesn’t matter. I’m down for all of it.
Whenever possible, I like to order oysters directly from the farmers themselves. This ensures they are very fresh (sometimes less than a day out of the water) and keeps them out of those aquarium-like tanks that some seafood distributors store them in. Though useful for keeping oysters alive for long periods of time, these tanks eventually filter out the natural ocean brine, which in my eyes is one of the best parts.
This dish was first served at a dinner event Butter on the Endive hosted last year after a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. With chicken and waffles as the inspiration, this dish is not subtle, nuanced or healthy by any means, but it does seem to make people smile, which is never a bad thing.
yields 4 portions
For this recipe, use larger beach oysters, which are better suited to cooking than the smaller
16 medium beach oysters, shucked
1 cup / 170 grams cornmeal
1 cup / 135 grams all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon / 6 grams smoked paprika
1 tablespoon / 6 grams garlic powder
1 tablespoon / 15 grams kosher salt
1 teaspoon / 2 grams cayenne pepper
canola oil for deep frying
Shuck the oysters and place in a small mixing bowl with their delicious briny liquor. Heat a deep fryer to 360°F or fill a medium sized pot (preferably cast iron) half full with canola oil and bring up to temperature, monitoring with a deep-fry thermometer. Combine the cornmeal, flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper in a mixing bowl and stir until combined. Shake the excess liquid off of each oyster, place in the cornmeal mixture and toss until completely coated. Let the oysters sit in the dredge for a few minutes to help develop a nice crust. Carefully remove the oysters from the cornmeal mixture and place gently in the deep fryer or pot. Fry for 1 minute, or until golden brown and crispy. Remove to a small baking sheet lined with paper towel and season lightly with kosher salt.
yields 4 waffles
• ¾ cup / 125 grams cornmeal
• 1 ¼ cup / 300 millilitres buttermilk
• 1 cup / 135 grams all-purpose flour
• 2 tablespoons / 26 grams sugar
• 1 teaspoon / 5 grams kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon / 15 grams baking powder
• 1 large egg
• ¼ cup / 50 grams melted bacon fat (canola oil will work fine in a pinch)
• 2 whole /40 grams jalapeno, seeds removed and minced
• 1 bunch / 40 grams green onion (white part only), sliced thinly
• ½ cup / 100 grams smoked bacon, diced small and cooked until rendered and crsipy
Combine the cornmeal and buttermilk in a mixing bowl, stir to bring together and let stand 10 minutes. In a separate mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and mix. Add the egg and bacon fat to the cornmeal/buttermilk mixture and stir to combine. Add the flour mixture, jalapeno, green onion and bacon to the cornmeal and stir until just combined. Pre-heat your waffle iron, ladle in the batter and cook until golden brown and cooked through, approximately 5 minutes.
yields 500 millilitres
• 1 cup / 200 grams mayonnaise
• 2 tablespoons / 30 grams creamed horseradish
• ¼ cup / 60 grams grainy mustard
• ¼ cup / 8 grams Italian parsley, minced
• 2 tablespoons / 30 grams shallot, peeled, minced and rinsed in a strainer under cold water (this removes some of the unpleasant raw onion taste)
• 1 teaspoon / 3 grams garlic, peeled and minced
• 1 ½ tablespoons / 20 grams white wine vinegar
• 2 teaspoons / 10 millilitres fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon / 2 grams smoked paprika
• 1 teaspoon / 2 grams cayenne pepper
• 1 teaspoon / 2 grams garlic powder
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Place the waffle on a plate, top with 4 fried oysters and drizzle with the remoulade sauce. Serve with a salad of some sort. Some sort of coleslaw with a bit of zip would also go great with this.
Owen Lightly is the founder of Butter On The Endive, a full service catering company dedicated to providing inspired food experiences to its clients. A veteran member of many local kitchen teams (among them Aurora Bistro, West, Au Petit Chavignol, Araxi, and Market), he pens Scout’s new Pound Of Butter food column. Read our interview with him here.