The Chef in the Hat

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The Chef In The Hat is Thierry Rautureau, the talented force behind Loulay Kitchen & Bar and Luc restaurants, bringing a French twist to the best of Pacific Northwest cuisine.


Recipe: Oysters with Leeks and Caviar Sabayon

Perfect and simple warm appetizer to impress all of your friends at your next holiday party. Chef Thierry suggests using kusshi or kumamoto oysters for this recipe, but any small-ish oyster will do. The rock salt will keep the oysters steady while they’re in the oven, and you can use the same salt to serve your finished dish. Serve with a nice bottle of champagne, mais bien sûr.

This recipe originally appeared in the cookbook, Rover’s Recipes from Seattle’s The Chef In The Hat by Thierry Rautureau and co-authored by Cynthia Nims.

Makes 4 servings

Rock salt

12 small oysters in the shell

½ cup heavy cream

¾ cup champagne

2 small leeks, white part only, halved lengthwise, rinsed, and very thinly sliced

Sea salt

3 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 ounce white sturgeon caviar



Fennel fronds

Preheat the oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with about 1 inch of rock salt.

Shuck oysters. If you don't know how, watch this video first! :)

 Discard the top shells and carefully cut the adductor muscle that attaches each oyster to its bottom shell. Pour the nectar from each oyster into a small dish and reserve. Set the oysters in their shells, on the prepared baking sheet, gently nestling them into the salt so they rest securely.

Combine the cream and oyster nectar in a small skillet over medium-high heat and boil to reduce by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a dish and set aside. Clean the skillet. Put ½ cup of the champagne, the leeks, and a pinch of salt in the same skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, just until the leeks are tender and the champagne has fully reduced, 8 to 10 minutes. 

Whisk the egg yolks and the remaining ¼ cup of champagne together in the top of a double boiler or in a stainless steel bowl set over a saucepan of simmering, not boiling, water. Whisk the mixture until frothy and doubled in volume, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the reduced cream and melted butter and continue whisking until the mixture is fluffy and thickened and holds a ribbon for a few seconds when the whisk is lifted, 3 to 5 minutes longer. Remove the pan from the heat and gently fold in the caviar.

Bake the oysters just until warmed, but not cooked through, about 2 minutes. Take the oysters from the oven and turn on the broiler. Top the oysters with an even layer of the leeks, then spoon the sabayon evenly over and broil until the sabayon is lightly browned, about 1 minute. 

To serve, make a bed of rock salt on plates (you can reuse the salt from the baking sheet but it will be hot, so use a large spoon to transfer it) and arrange 3 oysters on each plate in a spoke pattern. To finish, add a tuft of fennel to the center of each plate.

Copyright Thierry Rautureau 2005