Tempura oysters

These lightly battered oysters from Matt Tebbutt make a great starter or canapé with a sweet and sour dipping sauce and tingly peppercorn dust
By Matt Tebbutt
Tempura oysters
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 6 as a starter
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes plus at least 4 hours resting time
  • Effort: easy


For the Thai-style dipping sauce

  • 8 tbsp Thai fish sauce, (nam pla)
  • 3-4 tbsp soft brown sugar, or palm sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely crushed
  • 3 bird's eye chillies or small red chilli
  • 1 piece stem ginger, in syrup, finely diced
  • 50 g green beans, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 2 limes, juice only

For the oysters

  • 2 tsp sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 tsp pink peppercorns
  • 115 g tempura flour, plus extra for dusting
  • about 170ml cold sparkling mineral water, or enough to make a batter
  • groundnut oil, for deep frying
  • 12 Whitstable oysters, freshly shucked

To garnish

  • handful coriander
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges


1. For the Thai-style dipping sauce: warm the fish sauce in a small saucepan with the sugar over a low-medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from the heat, stir in the garlic, chillies and ginger and set aside to infuse for about 5 minutes. Stir in the green beans and lime juice and add a splash of water if it tastes a little strong. Set aside.

2. For the oysters: tip the Sichuan peppercorns, pink peppercorns and salt into a small frying pan and dry-fry over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly toasted. Grind to a powder using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Set aside.

3. Preheat the groundnut oil in a deep fat fryer to 180C.

4. Gently mix the tempura flour with enough cold mineral water to form a batter the consistency of double cream - don't over-mix the batter and don't worry if there are a few lumps.

5. Lightly dust the oysters in tempura flour, shaking off any excess, then dip them into the batter. Drain off any excess batter and carefully lower them into the hot oil. Fry for 2-3 minutes, turning once, or until crisp and golden and cooked through.

6. Drain on kitchen paper then toss through about three-quarters of the ground peppercorn mix.

7. Transfer to serving plates and sprinkle with the reserved ground peppercorn mix. Garnish with coriander and lime wedges and serve with the dipping sauce on the side.

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