Forget the cocktail sauce. Forget the mignonette sauce. Forget any type of concoction you or a well-meaning host has ever topped your oysters with in the past. The combination of peppers, both sweet and hot, make this dish something special — even holiday worthy. (Think New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day.)
If you’re unsure how to open oysters properly, a process that can be dangerous if you don’t have the proper equipment, ask your fish monger to open them for you, to save the liquor and shells, and then you can reassemble at home.–Caprial and John Pence
Oysters with Sweet Pepper Relish Recipe
Hands-On Time: 50 minutes | Total Time: 50 minutes | Serves 6
- For the spicy pepper relish
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 1/4 red onion, minced
- 1 Anaheim chile, minced
- 2 red jalapeño chiles, minced
- Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lime
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch of ground cinnamon
- For the oysters
- 30 small oysters, such as yearlings, in the shell
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons water
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup finely ground cornmeal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Rock salt, for serving
- Cilantro or flat-leaf parsley sprigs, for garnish
- Make the relish
- 1. Combine the garlic, onion, chiles, lime juice and zest, oil, cilantro, cumin, and cinnamon in a bowl, and mix well. Season to taste with salt; set aside.
- Make the oysters
- 2. Shuck the oysters and refrigerate the meat until you are ready to cook them. Reserve and wash the bottom half of each shell; set aside.
- 3. Combine the eggs and water in a bowl, and mix well. In another bowl, combine the flour and cornmeal, mix well, add the salt and pepper, and mix well again. Dip each oyster in the egg mixture, then dredge in the flour mixture, and place on a plate.
- 4. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over high heat until smoking hot. Add as many oysters as will fit in the pan without overcrowding and brown well, about 2 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Continue pan-frying the remaining oysters.
- 5. To serve, place an oyster in each of the reserved shells. Set the shells on a bed of rock salt on a serving platter or tray. Top the oysters with some of the relish, garnish with cilantro sprigs, and serve immediately.
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Oysters with Sweet Pepper Relish Recipe © 2003 Caprial and John Pence. Photo © 2003 Maren Caruso. All rights reserved.