Monday, February 27, 2012

Oysters with lotus root and garlic chives

Oysters with lotus root and garlic chives

Oysters are a common winter treat in Japan. They are enjoyed both raw (of course!) and cooked, and most supermarkets (in my part of Japan, at least)  have a stock of both kinds--ready shucked--during the season, which runs until around April.

I've been meaning to incorporate oysters into my winter menu for a few years, and have been collecting recipes for a while. This recipe, from Korean-Japanese food writer Koh Kentetsu, is a real find. Far from overwhelming the plump brininess of the oysters, the assertive ginger-garlic-garlic chive sauce and lotus root crunch really complement and enhance the tender mollusks.

This recipe appeared in the Orange Page column Koh Kentetsu's yasai de otsumami (vegetable dishes to enjoy with drinks). Koh recommends Shaoxing wine, beer or shochu with this dish. I say it is too good to save just for drinking parties. Why not have it for dinner tonight, while oysters are still to be had!

Renkon-iri kaki-nira itame: Oysters with lotus root and garlic chives

Serves 4

1 lotus root bulb (around 240 g)
1/2 bunch garlic chives (around 50 g)
16 shucked oysters

2 tsp Japanese soy sauce
2 tsp cooking sake

For the sauce
4 tbsp (60 ml) cooking sake
4 tsp Japanese soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp Japanese rice vinegar
1 tsp katakuriko potato starch

2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
piece of ginger the size of 2 thumbs, chopped finely
2 tsp tobanjan (doubanjiang) or other chilli paste, or to taste (optional)
dribble of toasted sesame oil

1 Place shucked oysters in a sieve in a bowl. Wash gently to remove any grit in water to which you have added a little salt. Drain, pat dry with kitchen paper and place in a bowl with the Japanese soy sauce and cooking sake. Mix gently to coat and set aside. Wash lotus root well and peel with a vegetable peeler. Cut in half length-ways and cut each half cross-ways into slices 5 mm thick. Wash the garlic chives and cut into lengths 4-5 cm long. In a small bowl, mix the sauce ingredients.

2 Heat 1 tbsp oil in a frying pan or wok over medium heat. Add the oysters and stir-fry quickly until plump. Remove and set aside. In the same frying pan or wok, heat the remaining 1 tbsp vegetable over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger and tobanjan, if using, and stir-fry until fragrant. Add the lotus root and continue stir-frying until it becomes slightly transparent.

3 Return the oysters to the pan. Stir the sauce ingredients and pour into the pan in a circular motion. Mix and continue stir-frying until the sauce thickens. Dribble toasted sesame oil around the edge of the pan, stir once and place on a serving dish.

Recipe source: Orange Page


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