Barak Hirschowitz, whose parents are South African, was born in Israel, grew up in Cincinnati, started cooking in New York, and moved to Cape Town, where he has cooked for years. He has since left the kitchen to create South Africa Chef (sachef.com), a recruitment and staff training program for South Africa’s booming culinary and hospitality industry. He still cooks at charity benefits and special events. This sophisticated recipe is his creation.
South African Chardonnay, with its combination of creamy toast and food-friendly minerality, will hold its own against the complex flavor profile of this dish; recommended producers include Hamilton Russell, De Wetshof and Mulderbosch.
- For the apple-mint chutney
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, finely diced
- 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and diced
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons Mrs. Balls Chutney, or a peach-type chutney
- 2 tablespoons stone-ground mustard
- 1 small red chile pepper, seeded and finely diced
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
- For the passion fruit sauce
- 1/4 cup passion fruit juice, or guava or pineapple juice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 or 5 black peppercorns
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons butter, chilled and diced
- For the batter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for dredging
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Enough milk to make batter
- For the oysters
- 20 fresh oysters, shucked, shells reserved
- 4 ounces smoked trout, sliced, or smoked salmon
- Lard, olive oil, or peanut oil, for frying
To make the apple-mint chutney: Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat, add the onion, and cook slowly, stirring, until soft. Add all the remaining chutney ingredients and let simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Keep warm.
To make the passion fruit sauce: Combine the passion fruit juice, wine, onion, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a small saucepan and reduce over medium heat by two-thirds. Add the cream and reduce another two-thirds. Then strain the sauce into a bowl, whisk in butter until melted, and keep at room temperature.
To make the batter and fry the oysters: In a deep-sided pan, heat the lard or oil hot enough for frying. Meanwhile, mix all the batter ingredients together well, adding just enough milk to thicken the batter for coating. Wrap each oyster in a strip of the trout, and dredge the wrapped oyster in flour, coating it all over. When the oil is hot enough for frying, slip the oysters carefully into the batter, a few at a time. Fry, turning, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain, return the oil to frying temperature, and fry and the remaining wrapped oysters in the same way.
To serve, place a small amount of warm chutney in the oyster shell (or other shells available at cooking stores). Place a fried oyster on the chutney and top with some of the passion fruit sauce. Serve.