Chef Renee Behnke with Sur La Table makes three delicious dishes for dinner: fried oysters with rémoulade, curried red lentil soup, spinach and hearts of palm salad. All three recipes are from the book Memorable Recipes by Renee Behnke with Cynthia Nims / Andrews McMeel Publishing.
Fried Oysters with Rémoulade
Although I sometimes shuck fresh oysters for this dish, jarred oysters make the recipe a snap. Check that
the liquid surrounding the oysters in the jar is clear, rather than cloudy, to ensure they’re good and fresh.
These fried oysters are an element in the wonderful Spinach and Hearts of Palm Salad (page 44 of Memorable Recipes). Makes 6 to 8 servings.
24 small shucked oysters
1 cup buttermilk
¾cup all-purpose flour, plus more for sprinkling
½cup plain dried bread crumbs
½cup panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
½teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup mayonnaise
¼cup finely chopped cornichons or dill pickles
2 tablespoons finely chopped capers
1½ tablespoons minced shallot
1½ tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 anchovy fillet, mashed
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1. For the rémoulade, stir together the mayonnaise, cornichons, capers, shallot, tomato paste, lemon
juice, parsley, anchovy, mustard, tarragon, marjoram, and cayenne in a small bowl. Cover with plastic
wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.
2. Drain the oysters in a strainer, then place them in a bowl and add the buttermilk. Refrigerate for 30
minutes to 2 hours before continuing.
3. Cover 1 baking sheet with a thin layer of flour and line another baking sheet with a couple layers of
brown paper or paper towels. Combine the flour, plain and panko bread crumbs, lemon zest, cayenne,
salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and stir to mix.
4. Remove a few oysters at a time from the buttermilk and thoroughly coat them in the bread crumb
mixture. Set the coated oysters on the floured baking sheet and continue with the remaining oysters. Let
the oysters sit for about 15 minutes, then toss them once again in the bread crumb mixture.
5. Preheat the oven to 200°F. Pour about 2 inches of oil into a deep fryer or large, deep pot, such as a
Dutch oven (it’s important the oil comes no more than halfway up the sides of the pan for safety). Heat
the oil over medium heat to 375°F.
6. Slip 4 or 5 of the coated oysters carefully into the hot oil and fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until nicely
browned. Transfer the oysters to the paper-lined baking sheet, sprinkle lightly with salt, and keep warm
in the oven while frying the remaining oysters.
7. Arrange the fried oysters on individual plates and spoon a generous dollop of rémoulade alongside.
Curried Red Lentil Soup
A staple of Indian cuisine, red lentils are smaller, more delicate lentils than the more common brown
lentils. They add great texture and color to this soup that is bursting with flavor. You can easily make
this a vegetarian recipe by replacing the chicken stock with vegetable broth. If the mango chutney
you’re using has large chunks of fruit, chop it up before adding to the soup. Makes 6 to 8 servings
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 jalapeño chile, cored, seeded, and minced
2 tablespoons minced or grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1½ tablespoons curry powder
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 dried bay leaves
1½ cups red lentils
8 cups chicken stock (page 83) or top-quality chicken broth
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons mango chutney
⅓cup plain yogurt
1. Heat the oil in a medium, heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, for 3 to
5 minutes, until tender and aromatic. Add the jalapeño, ginger, garlic, curry powder, cinnamon, cumin,
and bay leaves and cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute longer, until aromatic.
2. Stir in the lentils to blend well with the vegetable mixture, then add the chicken stock. Bring just to a
boil over medium-high heat. Decrease the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 35 to 45
minutes, until the lentils are tender. Discard the bay leaves and stir in the lemon juice with salt and
pepper to taste.
3. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro and chutney. Ladle the soup into individual bowls, add dollops
of the yogurt, and sprinkle with additional cilantro.
Spinach and Hearts of Palm Salad
Though this salad is delicious without the fried oysters, which can be found on page 4, I find I’m always
frying up a batch to top the colorful spinach salad embellished with hearts of palm and fresh tomato.
Makes 6 servings
1½ cups chopped, seeded tomatoes
1 can (14 ounces) hearts of palm, drained
8 green onions, sliced
¾cup Champagne Vinaigrette (page 63)
6 cups lightly packed spinach leaves, rinsed, dried, and tough stems removed
24 Fried Oysters (without rémoulade, page 4; optional)
1. Drain the tomatoes in a medium sieve over a bowl for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to help release
excess liquid. Place the hearts of palm in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 3 to
4 minutes, then drain well and let cool. Discard any tough outer layers from the hearts of palm and cut
them into 1/4-inch slices. Toss together the tomatoes, hearts of palm, and green onions with half of the
2. Arrange the spinach on individual salad plates. Spoon the tomato mixture into the center of each salad
and arrange the oysters around the tomato mixture. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the oysters