St. Paddy’s oysters

The Associated PressMarch 13, 2013 

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

In search of inspiration for this recipe, I dove into a shelf’s worth of Irish cookbooks. Oysters kept bobbing to the surface.

I concluded the Irish love oysters. Unfortunately, they tend to love them most when they’re swimming in cream. In America, we like our oysters fried. But I no more intended to fry these guys than to bathe them in cream. Deep-frying isn’t healthful.

As I continued to pore over my Irish cookbooks, I noticed Guinness appeared as an ingredient nearly as often as oysters. 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, 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 nonstick pan is a must.

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.

What I love about Colman’s is that it’s seriously hot. I added a generous dollop to a combo of mayo and Greek yogurt, along with 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 Pickle Sauce 1/2-3/4 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

11/2 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 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 oil. Dip oysters in additional flour to coat on all sides. Transfer 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 four serving plates. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 200 calories, 60 calories from fat (30 percent of total calories), 7 g fat (1 g saturated, 0 g trans fats), 10 mg cholesterol, 25 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 5 g protein, 430 mg sodium

Start to finish: 1 hour (30 minutes active) Servings: 4

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