By David Harbilas
This is a fairly simple recipe that relies on very few ingredients and little cooking.
The real star is not the tomatoes but the seafood.
Buy the very freshest oysters possible.
I just did a special menu for the New Year and bought oysters that were just four days out of the water. When I shucked them open they smelled like seawater, just as a fresh oyster should. It’s not too much to ask your fishmonger to tell you when the oysters were harvested, as well as the location.
In fact, they are obligated by law to keep that information on hand, and if they are unable to tell you go elsewhere. That being said, a really good, briny oyster benefits from simple parings of sweet, hot, and slightly sour. This dish offers that.
Enough for 12 oysters
12 oysters, scrubbed
2 globe tomatoes, peeled and cut into filets (see note)
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1 jalepeno, thinly sliced
1 orange, blood orange or other variety
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat an oven to 300 degrees. Mix the chile powder with the sugar and a pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Sprinkle the seasoning over the tomato filets and lay out on a sheet pan. Place in the oven and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until very tender. Remove the tomatoes and cool. Meanwhile, peel the orange and cut segments out from between the membranes.
Squeeze the juice from the body of the orange and reserve. Mix the juice with a little olive oil. Dice the tomato into small dice. To assemble, shuck each of the oysters and place a slice of jalepeno on top, followed by one orange segment and some pieces of the diced tomato. Drizzle a little of the orange juice-olive oil mix over the oysters and serve.
Note: to make tomato filets, peel the tomatoes by cutting an X into the bottom of the tomato, then place into boiling water for 10 seconds. Plunge the tomatoes into ice water, then pull off the peel. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, lengthwise, then cut out the center, leaving a “filet” of the outer flesh.