Food, love, passion. They’ve always been intertwined for me.
Sure, diamonds and Louboutins are perfectly nice and all that. But a man who knows how to feed you well? Now that’s truly priceless.
I’ve been thinking about why that is the case ever since my Twitter Let’s Lunch bunch, a global group of cooks who have a monthly virtual lunchdate, decided to put together aphrodisiac-laced dishes in honor of Valentine’s Day. In a story this week in the New York Times, food researchers say that the powers of aphrodisiacs have been rather exaggerated. Very few of the usual suspects — asparagus, chocolate — have proven to be able to boost the libido, apparently.
But how else to explain oyster-induced tinglies or the quickening heartbeat that truffles inevitably seem to cause?
Science be damned. I’d rather carry on believing in the potent sexual powers of food, thank you very much.
For my Let’s Lunch afternoon delight, oysters immediately came to mind. They’ve gotten me into trouble more times than I choose to remember. And, they’ve also long been regarded as aphrodisiacs perhaps they’re filled with zinc, which is a key nutrient for testosterone production.
Besides, there’s a Singaporean fried oyster omelette dish that never fails to get my heart racing at the mere thought of it.
Just like it can be with love (or what comes after love), however, this dish proved to be a little tricky to pull off …
For starters, this oyster omelette (better known as “Or Luak” in Southeast Asia) is not something I’ve seen many home cooks attempt. It’s a dish with its origins in the cuisine of the Teochews, an ethnic Chinese group. And it’s usually eaten at hawker stalls, made by cooks who only make oyster omelettes — so they’re pretty expert at it.
When I looked up recipes for the dish, however, I thought it’d be easy. Its basic ingredients are eggs, sweet potato flour, water and oysters — you scramble it all up and eat. How hard is that? I even watched a video on how to make or luak which pretty much confirmed my swelling confidence.
(If you’d like, of course, there are other fixings you can add — shallots, garlic, Chinese rice wine, fish sauce.)
The first recipe I tried, however, turned out to be a disaster. It called for two kinds of flour — tapioca and sweet potato — and things went awry the moment the batter hit the wok.
After much congealing — all of which seemed to take place over a matter of mere seconds — I found myself wrestling with an ectoplasmic blob that was so dense it was rapidly giving my frying hand carpal tunnel syndrome.
Devastated, I retreated from the kitchen in order to ponder what went wrong. Eggs, flour, water, oysters. Seriously, people — this shouldn’t be brain surgery.
Just then, however, an unruffled Mike — the would-be eater of this omelette — sent his take on the situation.
“You’re spoiled,” he said. “First-time stuff, you should EXPECT to go wrong. But you’ve spoiled yourself. You’re so good that when any little thing goes wrong, you fall apart!”
Which, right or wrong, cheered me right up.
Back to the kitchen it was and the second try — though not perfect — was better. I still poured in way too much batter by mistake, making the egg-to-batter ratio off-kilter. But the end result, though not really resembling oyster omelettes made by the pros, was nicely crispy and not bad overall.
(If I can get my batter-pouring hand to stick to doling out just two ladles instead of far more than that, I’m pretty sure my third time will be a cinch.)
This whole experiment, it began with the desire to create love-inducing food.
But sometimes food is just food. As for love, well, it’s made up of support, encouragement, friendship and faith.
Which may not be that sexy — but it’s a whole lot more than eggs, flour, water and oysters.
Happy Valentine’s day, folks …
If you’d like to join Let’s Lunch, go to Twitter and post a message with the hashtag #Letslunch — or, post a comment below.
And don’t forget to see other Let’s Lunchers’ aphrodisiac-laced dishes below:
Barbra‘s Stuffed Oysters at Serve It Forth
Cathy‘s “Take-A-Bite Take-A-Break” Bedside Cheese Tray at Showfood Chef
Chris‘s Asparagus and Avocado Salad at Blog Well Done
Ellise‘s Chipotle Guacamole With Toasted Pepitas at Cowgirl Chef
Linda‘s Heart-Shaped Pumpkin Scones With Dark Chocolate Chunks at Free Range Cookies
Stephanie‘s Pomme D’Amour Chicken Fricassee at The Cosmic Cowgirl
Teochew-style Oyster Omelette (Or Luak)
(Adapted from Makansutra and The Star in Malaysia, via Kay’s Space)
8 fresh oysters
110 grams sweet potato flour
250 ml water
1 tsp salt
2 large eggs
2 TB chopped scallions
1 big dash of fish sauce
1 big dash of Chinese rice wine
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 shallots, finely minced
4 TB vegetable oil
A dash of pepper
Soak oysters in water. Mix together sweet potato flour, salt and water into a thin, runny batter and set aside. Drain oysters, then add a few spoonfuls of batter to oysters and set aside.
Heat 2 TB oil in a non-stick wok or pan. Scoop two soup ladles of batter onto the heated wok. Stir quickly then crack in eggs, one at a time. Stir quickly, then push cooked batter to one side of the wok.
Add 2 TB oil to the wok; add shallots and garlic and saute. Add in oysters. Cook for a minute and then combine the oysters together with the egg and sweet potato flour batter.
Add pepper and sprinkle with chopped scallions. Give it a stir, then dish out and serve with a garlicky or vinegary chili sauce. Garnish with fresh coriander, if desired.