Recently experimenting with new preparations for oysters, I realized that when it comes to frying, my favorite batter is made with beer. Why not batter my oysters with beer (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. What I love about it 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.
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.
“FRIED” GUINNESS-BATTERED OYSTERS WITH MUSTARD SAUCE
Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active)
1/2 to 3/4 cup Guinness Stout
1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the oysters
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped cornichons or dill pickle
1/2 teaspoon prepared Colman Mustard (or the mustard of your choice)
3/4 cup coarsely shredded carrots
3/4 cup finely shredded cabbage (preferably savoy or Napa)
11/2 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 bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the Guinness, 1/2 cup flour and 1/4 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, 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 between 4 serving plates. Serve immediately.