ShareThis Page
Food & Drink

Healthy Eating: 'Fried' oysters that spare you a mess

| Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
In this image taken on Feb. 18, 2013, a 'fried' Guinness battered oyster with mustard pickle sauce is shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)
In this image taken on Feb. 18, 2013, a 'fried' Guinness battered oyster with mustard pickle sauce is shown in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

In honor of St. Patrick's Day I have packed four Irish ingredients into one tasty little appetizer — oysters, cabbage, Guinness stout and Colman's Mustard.

What's that? The skeptics among you are claiming that fully half of those ingredients — the oysters and Colman's — are ringers? Not so. And here's why.

In search of inspiration for this recipe, I dove into a shelf's worth of Irish cookbooks. Much to my surprise, oysters kept bobbing to the surface. So I concluded that the Irish love oysters. Unfortunately, they tend to love them most when they're swimming in cream, a fate to which I would never consign them.

Here in America we like our oysters fried. But I no more intended to fry these guys than to bathe them in cream. Not only is deep-frying unhealthy, it's also messy and far too much trouble.

As I continued to pore over my Irish cookbooks, I noticed that Guinness stout appeared as an ingredient nearly as often as oysters. and suddenly inspiration hit. When it comes to frying, my favorite batter is made with beer. Why not batter my oysters with Guinness (and a bit of flour, of course), then saute them, rather than fry them?

Beer brings two wonderful qualities to a batter — bubbles (which make the batter light) and alcohol (which amplifies flavor even if you don't taste the alcohol itself).

As for the sauteing, a couple years ago, I learned how well it worked as a frying substitute when I used the technique on beer-battered shrimp. Turns out it works just as well on oysters. As a result, this recipe requires only a single tablespoon of oil, instead of the 4 cups usually called for in deep-fat frying. And the oysters turn out with a nice (albeit not so stiff) crust. That said, a non-stick pan is a must for this recipe.

Now, I just needed to sauce them up a bit, which brings us to Colman's Mustard. I know it's made in England, not Ireland, but that's close enough for me. Please believe it; Colman's has been crossing the border to the Emerald Isle for ages and it's widely available in our own supermarkets.

What I love about Colman's is that it's seriously hot, very reminiscent in its tear-inducing, nasal-cleansing potency of the equally scorching Chinese mustard many of us love. I added a generous dollop of the stuff to a combo of mayo and Greek yogurt, along with some chopped pickles.

The only thing missing now was a nod to one of Ireland's favorite vegetables after the potato, namely cabbage. So I topped this appetizer with a tidy little mix of shredded cabbage and carrots, tossed simply with cider vinegar, sugar and salt. The acid in this topping provides a tangy counterbalance to the breaded oyster with its creamy sauce. The whole concoction came together very nicely. A true ode to Ireland.

Chef Sara Moulton writes this column for the Associated Press.

“Fried” Guinness Battered Oysters With Mustard Pickle Sauce

Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)

12 to 34 cup Guinness Stout

12 cup flour, plus extra for dusting the oysters

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise

2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt

1 12 tablespoons finely chopped cornichons or dill pickle

12 teaspoon prepared Colman Mustard (or the mustard of your choice)

34 cup coarsely shredded carrots

34 cup finely shredded cabbage (preferably savoy or Napa)

1 12 tablespoons cider vinegar

Hefty pinch of granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

12 oysters, shucked, reserving the bottom (curvier) shell to serve

In a medium-size bowl, whisk together 12 cup of the Guinness, 12 cup flour and 14 teaspoon salt. The batter should have the consistency of a thick pancake batter. If it is thicker than that, add additional beer. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, cornichons or pickle and mustard. Season with salt and pepper.

In another small bowl, toss together the carrots, cabbage, vinegar, sugar and a hefty pinch of salt.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium, heat the oil. Dip the oysters in the additional flour to coat them on all sides. Transfer the coated oyster to a strainer to shake gently to remove excess flour.

Add the coated oysters to the beer batter. Lift them from the batter, letting the excess batter drip off, then add them to the skillet. Cook until they are golden, for about 2 minutes per side, then transfer them to paper towels to drain.

To serve, put the oysters in the reserved shells, then top each with a bit of the mustard sauce and some of the carrot mixture. Serve either on a platter as hors d'oeuvres, or divide among 4 serving plates. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 200 calories (60 calories from fat), 7 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 10 milligrams cholesterol, 5 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams dietary fiber, 430 milligrams sodium

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me