Just in time for the holidays!!! The perfect and most amazing appetizer! Lee Anne is a genius and this dish is melt-in-your-mouth good. In the cookbook, Ted Allen, the guest judge for that episode, asked, "Are you trying to seduce me?" - and indeed - this is the perfect appetizer to seduce anyone- a sheer winner!!!
Picking the Oysters:
The recipe did not specify what kind of oysters to get. I went to Eli's and they only had one kind of fresh oyster and I'm still not exactly sure what I got. They were definitely American and of medium size. I was told they were like Blue Points but not Blue Points. Then I was told they were called something like "Wiflely." I tried to google "Wifley" and "oysters" and variations on spellings and got nowhere, but in the end, I guess just using good old American medium-sized oysters, even without knowing precisely what they were was just fine, because when cooked they tasted awesome. At Eli's I ordered my oysters and asked the guy in the fish department if he could shuck them for me, which was huge, because I think I would have ended up with bloody hands if I had tried to shuck them myself. The recipe calls for saving the oyster liquid, but it's not used anywhere else in the recipe, so that was odd. I guess if I had been making a fish fume (stock) on the side, the oyster liquid would have been a nice thing to add. You do want to reserve the attractive half of the oyster shell, as you will need that later for plating. Anyway, here is what a few of the shucked oysters looked like still raw, before the deep frying process.
Preparing the Lemon Cream Sauce: Preparing the Lemon Cream Sauce was easy. It was really just all about thoroughly reducing heavy cream by about 2/3 over heat.
Then you have to put the cream through a sieve to get rid of any skin or solids that may have formed through the heating. I did this at a friend's house and wished I had brought a bigger sieve!
After sieving the sauce, I returned it to the pan and added the flavors (the lemon juice, lemon zest, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper) to the sauce and kept it warm. [Insert photos 45a, 48a, and 49a] Preparing the Little "Salad" that Garnishes the Oysters : That salad garnish was also easy. It was comprised of homemade bacon bits. It was also comprised of chopped plum tomato, finely minced shallot and parsley, some extra virgin olive oil, and an ingredient I could not find called "sea beans." I looked up "sea beans" on the internet and asked about it at Eli's and got nowhere. It was only a minimal ingredient to this garnish, however, so I thought we would do fine without it. In the end (even though we all didn't really know what we were missing), we did not miss it!
Deep Frying the Oysters: You DON'T have to own a deep fryer to deep fry. It does help, however, to own a candy/deep frying thermometer, because getting the oil to exactly 375⁰F is key. First I had to prepare the very simple batter for the oysters, which was just all purpose flour with club soda poured in to make a smooth but light pasty batter. Then I dipped the oysters in one at a time and in small batches fried the oysters in the very hot vegetable oil.
For this, I had to work fast as the oysters only took about 30 seconds to cook and turn a nice golden brown.
I removed the oysters from the hot oil with a slotted spoon.
Plating the Dish: Plating the dish was simple. All you had to do was make little "platforms" out of kosher salt on the appetizer serving plates, put the reserved half shell on the salt, then place one deep fried oyster per shell, spoon warm lemon cream sauce over each, and garnish with the little salad. Then it's good to go!
My Suggestions To Make This Fabulous Dish Even Better: This dish was by far one of the favorites I have served to my friends. In fact, the term "best thing you have ever made," came out of one friend's mouth. I have no idea how to make this dish better, except maybe to find out what a "sea bean" is! Final Word on this Dish: If you want to make a relatively easy dish that has serious "wow" and sophistication potential, this is the one. I am often so busy that I don't make many recipes twice, but I've already made this one more than once because it was just so impressive!!