Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Rick Steins Fish & Chips, Padstow

 Battered Oysters

Last weekend I took a much needed couple of days and headed down to Cornwall with my sister (Alice) and our boyfriends (Ben, George) in tow. The plan: to eat, drink, walk and generally look after ourselves very well until we felt we could face London again.

We were staying in George's bungalow in St Austell; a perfect little place to dump stuff during the day's activities and really settle into in the evenings. Very cosy with about 50 electric heaters blaring! Several evenings the pineapple rum made an appearance; it is delicious with ice after dinner (or whenever you fancy it really, I wouldn’t want to be too prescriptive!).
Well we certainly did look after ourselves and we pretty much ate ourselves to a standstill most days and yet, after two solid days of gluttony, we still managed to get completely over excited about getting ourselves down to Rick Stein's Fish & Chips for Sunday lunch.

We were queuing for about 30 minutes in the cold because (as you can imagine) the restaurant is pretty popular with visitors to Padstow. You can’t book at Stein’s Fish & Chips, which is really as it should be at a chippy. The prices are also pretty standard for fish and chips, but the taste is definitely better than most. I won’t say the BEST, that honour belongs to The Victoria Inn in Penzance, but I’ll save that for another day...
The restaurant was bright, simple and comfortable, with big scrubbed wooden tables which you will share with other people unless you are in a larger group. It’s table service without the frills, but essentially it was efficient and friendly and luckily the food appeared pretty pronto. We warmed up with a glass of wine, whilst the boys drank beer name after Rick Stein’s dog, Chalky.

Just because we couldn’t wait for our mains, and because we were intrigued, we ordered a couple of battered oysters a piece to get started. Ordinarily I'm pretty “take it or leave it” about oysters but these were really amazing. I could’ve easily just eaten a huge plateful of them for my lunch and couldn’t stop myself from asking the chef how he did them on my way out. The restaurant was just winding down and although the kitchen was closing, the very friendly David took me behind the scenes  to show me how they were done; I was making mental notes like a mad thing hoping mine might be half as good!

Obviously I intended to try these at home but, as I was buying my oysters at Whole Foods, I realised I had no idea how to shuck an oyster. My advice: if you’re going to try this at home then ask your friendly fishmonger for a quick tutorial. Martin at Whole Foods was very obliging and I even got a free oyster to taste out of it! Honestly though, I would have had no clue if it hadn’t been for my mini lesson. I actually had an oyster shucking knife at home (an unused present), but you absolutely need one so if you don’t have one then you must get one. They were selling them at Whole Foods for £11.99 which I reckon isn’t too bad.
Here’s my take on those oysters and I urge you to try it. A bit fiddly (and there’s obviously the need to be careful with sizzling hot oil), but it’s worth the effort.

The Bill:   £50.80

8 battered oysters      £1.45 each
3 scampi & chips        £8.50 each
1 cod & chips           £9.50
2 mush peas             £1.15 each
2 Tartare Sauce         95p each

8 oysters

For the batter:

1oz plain flour
½ tsp cornflour
50ml cold sparkling water
300-500ml vegetable oil, for deep frying
Salt & pepper

1.Add the dry ingredients for the batter into a bowl and whisk in the sparkling water. Season with salt and pepper.
2.  Schuck the oysters, making sure they are cleanly separated from the shell. Discard the flat side of the shell and keep the rounded side for serving.
3.  Heat the oil for frying in a heavy bottomed saucepan (or fire up your deep fat fryer if you have one).
4.  When the oil is sizzling hot, lay an oyster shell on a slotted spoon and lower into the oil to kill on the pesky bacteria.
5.  Set the shell to one side and dip your first oyster in the batter so that it’s well coated. Drop into the oil for about 45 seconds and watch it crisp up and brown!
6.  Scoop the oyster out with the slotted spoon and repeat.
7.  Serve the oysters in their shells with wedges of lemon.
8.  Eat them quickly whilst their hot!!

Total Cost of Ingredients:    99p an oyster
(ingredients for the batter were already in my cupboard)

No comments:

Post a Comment