Fried Oyster Salad with Bacon Balsamic Aioli
- 5 to 6 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
- 1/2 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1/2 shallot, minced
- 3 cups extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1 cup plus 5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup chopped cooked bacon plus 2 strips crispy cooked bacon, chopped for garnish
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 cups canola oil
- 1/4 cup water
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 tablespoon baking powder
- 10 shucked gulf oysters
- 6 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 hard-boiled egg, chopped for garnish
- 1/2 roasted red pepper, cut into strips for garnish
Special equipment: a deep-fry thermometer
To make the balsamic vinaigrette, combine the thyme, rosemary, shallot, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, granulated sugar and 1 cup of the balsamic vinegar and whisk thoroughly to emulsify.
To make the bacon aioli: Puree 1 cup chopped bacon in a robot coupe or food processor then remove and set aside. Add the egg yolks, brown sugar and remaining 5 tablespoons vinegar to the processor and puree for 30 seconds. Add the canola oil very slowly until it thickens into a mayonnaise. Add back in the bacon. Add the 1/4 cup of water and continue mixing. Add salt and pepper to taste.
To fry the oysters: Heat the vegetable oil to 375 degrees F in a deep skillet or medium saucepot.
In a bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss the oysters in the mixture and coat well. Fry for about 30 seconds until golden brown. Remove to paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
To serve, toss the spinach with 2 ounces of the balsamic vinaigrette, garnish with chopped egg, crispy bacon and sliced roasted pepper. Place in the center of 2 plates. Garnish each plate with 5 oysters around the spinach, alternating with a dollop of aioli between each.