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Haute Oyster

Haute Oyster
September 2012
Chef Nate Whiting shares a decadent on-the-half-shell recipe

“My approach to fine dining is simple purity,” says chef Nate Whiting. “I’m not an artist; at most, I enhance.” The much too modest executive chef at Tristan has gained acclaim since taking the helm of the restaurant in 2009, quietly wowing guests with his elegant fare. And perhaps nowhere is his meticulous approach more apparent than in his poached oyster recipe.

With oyster season officially kicking off September 15, this dish, featuring truffle oil and anchovies, is a great way to get your half-shell fix while the weather is still too hot for a roast.

To begin, the chef suggests giving his recipe a thorough read. “I like to review a recipe three or four times before I even start cooking to make sure I understand everything,” says the Johnson & Wales grad. Shuck two dozen oysters, saving the juice. Then “scrape the shells and run them through the dishwasher twice to get a clean shell for serving,” he says.

For Whiting, the end goal is to elevate the star component, and to do so he encourages home cooks to use the best supporting ingredients. “Buy a European butter with higher milk fat content, such as Plugra, to add flavor to your emulsion,” he suggests. As for the truffle oil (available online), that’s optional. “I only use Italy’s Savitar brand because it’s made from real truffles, not chemical perfumes.” To execute the dish, Whiting says, don’t skip any steps. His advice? “Focus on the journey, not the end result. If you let the details accumulate, you’ll get where you want to be.” Destination: delicious.