Battered Oyster Roll

Battered Oyster Roll

Unlike us prosaic Brits, the people of New Orleans have a way with words when it comes to naming their food. So when the ‘oyster loaf’ that was popular in eighteenth-century England (hollowed-out bread rolls stuffed with fried oysters) crossed the Atlantic it became known in New Orleans as la mediatrice or ‘the peace-maker’. The Picayune’s Creole Cook Book (1901), explains why: ‘Every husband who is detained down town, laughingly carried home an oyster loaf, or mediatrice, to make “peace” with his anxiously waiting wife. Right justly is the Oyster Loaf called the “Peacemaker,” for, well made, it is enough to bring the smiles to the face of the most disheartened wife.’ These peacemakers then became po’ boys when they provided cheap sustenance for ‘poor boys’ caught up in a particularly violent strike by New Orleans streetcar operatives in 1929.

Instead of breadcrumbs, we dip our oysters in beer batter and fry them in dripping, lending this now American sandwich a hint of the traditional British fish and chip shop and have renamed it in a matter-of-fact manner more appropriate to these shores.

For how many? Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 24 to 36 large oysters
  • Seasoned flour
  • Beef dripping
  • Malt vinegar
  • For the beer batter:
  • 225g plain flour
  • 7g sachet easy mix yeast
  • 1 tsp malt vinegar
  • 300ml pale ale
  • For the lemon mayonnaise:
  • 100g mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Zest and juice of one lemon
  • cayenne pepper
  • To serve:
  • 4 hot dog rolls
  • Butter, softened
  • Little Gem lettuce

Instructions

First make the beer batter. Put the flour and yeast in a bowl, make a hollow in the centre and pour in the vinegar and pale ale, whisking as you go. Leave in a covered bowl at room temperature for at least an hour.

To make the lemon mayonnaise mix all the ingredients together, and adjust the seasoning to taste.

Heat the beef dripping to 180°C/350°F in a small fryer.

Shuck the oysters (see p 118–119), remove the meat and pat dry with kitchen paper. Dip them in plain flour and then in the beer batter, making sure they are evenly coated. Shake off any excess.

Deep-fry the oysters for about a minute until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Sprinkle with salt and shake over malt vinegar.

Take 4 freshly warmed hotdog rolls, split down the middle and butter. Top with a layer of lettuce, then spoon over the lemon mayonnaise. Add the deep-fried oysters and cover with the other half of the hotdog roll.

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