Fried Oysters with Chile,
Smoked Shrimp, and Peanut Sauce

Huitres Azi Dessi


Serves 8

Oysters are popular all along the vast shoreline of Africa, where they are harvested for export. In this dish from Togo, a former French colony, plump spicy fried oysters pair perfectly with the uniquely African (and unusual) sauce of hot chiles, tomatoes, onions, smoked shrimp, and ground peanuts. West Africans use dried smoked shrimp for the sauce, but fresh smoked shrimp adds greatly to the flavor.

Chef Notes
For a most authentic flavor to the sauce, roast raw peanuts, then grind them to a paste just before service. Clams, mussels, shrimp, langoustines, or South African rock lobster nuggets prepared in this manner go well with the sauce.

Sauce Azi Dessi

Makes 2-1/2 cups [540 mL]

  • 3 tablespoons [45 mL] palm (dendé) oil
  • 1-1/4 pounds [560 g] tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and puréed
  • 2 medium onions, minced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon [1 to 3 mL] minced habanero chile
  • 1 teaspoon [5 mL] fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 tablespoons [45 mL] chunky peanut butter or freshly
  •      ground peanuts, processed to a paste
  • 2/3 cup [160 mL] smoked shrimp, very finely minced


  • 1 quart [1 L] plump oysters, shucked
  • 1 cup [240 mL] fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon [5 mL] garlic powder
  • 1-1/2 cups [360 mL] flour
  • 2 teaspoons [10 mL] cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon [5 mL] salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon [3 mL] black pepper
  • Peanut oil or vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish

Advance Preparation

1. For the sauce, heat the palm oil in a nonstick skillet over low heat. Add the tomato purée and sauté for about 10 minutes, or until the purée thickens slightly.

2. Add the onions, garlic, chile, and ginger and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool 10 minutes. (The sauce can be made to this point one day in advance.) Stir in the peanut butter. Just before service, add the smoked shrimp and stir well to combine.

Preparation of the Oysters

3. Place the oysters in a resealable plastic bag. Mix the lemon juice with the garlic powder and add this mixture to the oysters. Toss to coat. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes. Drain and reserve the oysters.

4. Combine the flour, cayenne, salt, and pepper in a paper bag or bowl and shake well to mix.

Cooking Method

5. Just before cooking, toss the oysters, in batches, into the bag and shake to ensure complete coating with the flour mixture.

6. Deep-fry the oysters in oil at 365 degrees F [185 degrees C], in batches, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they rise to the surface and are golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels, keeping the oysters warm until service.


7. Serve 4 oysters per person, accompanied by a small ramekin of the chile sauce and a lemon wedge

  • from:
  • The Appetizer Atlas
  • A World of Small Bites
  • by Arthur L. Meyer and Jon M. Vann
  • Wiley 2003
  • Cloth; 624 pages; $45.00
  • ISBN: 0-471-41102-7
  • Recipe reprinted by permission.

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