Each week I contribute a column to the Whole Foods Market Cooking Boulder Website expanding on one of the 10 Ways Tuesday ideas. Below is the original article from this week, a mixed seafood fry-up with oysters, squid, and scallops.
The new year is a time to celebrate. Gathering with family and friends slows down the hectic pace of life for a moment. At la Domestique we begin the year with freshly shucked oysters, which are at their best right now. Reading the book, Sex, Death and Oysters by Robb Walsh, I learned about the life cycle of an oyster. During the winter months, as ocean waters get colder, oysters produce a carbohydrate called glycogen. The result is a nice sweet, plump oyster on your plate. Warm summer waters entice oysters into the reproductive cycle, and both flavor and texture suffer as the oyster puts all its energy towards procreating. The peak of oyster season is during the coldest part of the year. Since raw oysters aren’t for everyone, I thought I would share my second favorite way to enjoy the briny, delicately flavored bivalves: fried.
I came across a recipe for Fritto Misto Amalfitano in The Young Man & the Sea, written by Esca‘s chef, David Pasternack, along with Ed Levine. This cookbook is a combination of easygoing recipes and transporting storytelling that feels like the vacation we all need right about now. Fritto Misto Amalfitano is inspired by a meal of fried mixed seafood enjoyed on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. Don’t be dissuaded by the words “deep fried” — there is nothing heavy about this dish. It’s a clever recipe — light and delicate, sunny and bright — all due to a few chef-savvy tricks.
First, Chef Pasternack employs a special technique of frying at a lower temperature (275 degrees Fahrenheit). Because of the lower temperature, he is able to use a combination of olive oil and canola oil. The seafood retains its delicate, briny juices inside while sporting a crisp, crunchy coat on the outside. Second, the recipe calls for a specific type of flour: Wondra, a (widely available) brand of very finely milled flour designed for making clump-free gravy. Chef Pasternack claims Wondra flour forms a delicate, crispy coating over the seafood that is superior to other flours. Lastly, thinly sliced fried lemons are added to the mix, a tart, delicious revelation that might even be addictive.
All you need to make Fritto Misto Amalfitano is a pot for frying, a frying thermometer, and a selection of fresh seafood. Follow the recipe with shucked oysters, squid, and scallops, or add your own seafood selections based on what is fresh in your local market. I suggest letting the fishmonger do the shucking for you, then all you have to do is tend to the frying. Grab a bottle of bubbly and a few good friends and you’ve got the perfect way to welcome the new year.
Fritto Misto Amalfitano
From The Young Man & the Sea by David Pasternack and Ed Levine
6 cups extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups canola oil
1 1/2 cups Wondra
1 cup cornstarch
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound squid, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
4 ounces shucked oysters
4 ounces bay scallops
1/2 pound scrod, cut into 1 1/4-inch strips
2 lemons, 1 thinly sliced and 1 cut into wedges
Find the full recipe for Fritto Misto Amalfitano at Leite’s Culinaria