Salad of Winter Greens and Fried Oysters
Here, minced chives suffuse a tangy sour cream dressing with their subtle onion-like essence. The dressing’s creamy coolness is the perfect balance to the spicy cornmeal that coats the briny fried oysters. A bed of romaine and radicchio offers crunch and color. Suitable as a first course served at an elegant dinner party, it also makes a satisfying light supper when served with a hunk of good bread and a glass of wine.
- 1 cup (5 oz./155 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz./235 g) yellow cornmeal
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 24 shucked oysters, drained and picked over for shell pieces
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) sour cream
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) buttermilk
- 1/4 cup (1/3 oz./10 g) minced fresh chives
- 1 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) grapeseed oil
- 1 small head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced
- 1 small head radicchio, thinly sliced
Put the flour in a shallow bowl. In a second shallow bowl, whisk the eggs until blended. In a third shallow bowl, stir together the cornmeal, cayenne, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper. One at a time, dip the oysters first in the flour, coating evenly and shaking off the excess, then in the eggs, allowing the excess to drip off, and finally in the seasoned cornmeal, coating evenly and shaking off the excess. Place the coated oysters on a large plate and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the dressing: In a food processor or blender, combine the sour cream, buttermilk, chives, lemon juice, mustard, sugar, a scant 1/2 tsp. salt and several grindings of pepper. Process until well blended. Taste and adjust the seasonings; set aside.
Remove the coated oysters from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. In a large fry pan, preferably nonstick, warm the oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches to avoid crowding, add the oysters to the pan and cook, turning once, until golden brown and slightly crisp, about 2 minutes on each side. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain. When all of the oysters are cooked, sprinkle them lightly with salt and tent loosely with foil to keep warm.
In a large bowl, toss together the romaine, radicchio, 1⁄4 tsp. salt and several grindings of pepper. Divide the greens among individual plates. Divide the fried oysters among the salads, drizzle each serving with about 2 Tbs. dressing and serve immediately. Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Salad of the Day, by Georgeanne Brennan (Weldon Owen, 2012)