Just over an hour's drive from Melbourne and kissed by the sea breezes of the Bass Strait, Victoria's pictureque Mornington Peninsular has evolved into one of Australia's most distinguished cool climate wine regions. Zac Poulier, owner and chef of Stillwater Restaurant at Crittenden Estate, takes full advantage of the ocean's bounty in this New Orleans-inspired dish. The briny tang of its oysters finds no better partner than the refined fizz of a Crittenden Estate Sparkling Brut.
2 dozen freshly shucked oysters
250ml milk (reserve 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon water
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup plain flour
½ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil for frying
2 long baguettes, sliced into 1cm slices, char-grilled
1 baby cos, small leaves picked
Micro herbs to garnish
1 ¼ cups whole egg mayonnaise
¼ cup wholegrain mustard
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon pickle juice
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained, chopped
1 teaspoon horseradish
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon hot sauce
1 small celeriac, finely grated
1 Lebanese cucumber, deseeded,
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed, drained and chopped
½ bunch dill, chopped extra whole sprigs to garnish
2 lemons, juiced
1. To make mayonnaise: Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until required.
2. For Celeriac Remoulade: Mix celeriac, cucumbers, capers and dill and lemon juice with enough mayonnaise to coat.
3. Place oysters in a small bowl. Cover with milk and let soak. In a medium bowl, whisk together reserved milk, water, cayenne and eggs. Place the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper into a plastic bag and shake to mix.
4. In a large heavy-based fry pan or pot, pour enough oil to fill the pan about 3cm deep, then heat to about 180oC (to gauge temperature, drop a piece of bread in the oil – it should turn golden in 15 seconds).
5. In batches, dip the oysters in the milk mix, then drop into the bag of flour mix. Close and shake. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining oysters.
6. When the oil is at temperature, fry oysters in batches. Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook, turning once until golden brown and cooked through (about 3 minutes). Drain on paper towel.
7. To serve: Spread a layer of spicy mayo on each slice of baguette, then lettuce and celeriac, followed by an oyster. Garnish with micro herbs.
To serve as a classic po’boy: Use 4 small baguettes. Cut baguettes in half, generously spread with sauce on both sides, place lettuce down, add celeriac remoulade and fill each baguette with 6 oysters. Slice cucumber thinly lengthways, top with cucumber slices and drizzle some more sauce with squeeze of lemon before serving. Garnish with extra dill sprigs.
Notes: Pickle juice is available from selected specialty stores.
WINE MATCH: Crittenden Estate Geppetto Sparkling Brut NV