Andy lai’s chiu chow oyster cake

Andy lai’s chiu chow oyster cake

Hong Kong Diner
2 medium ‘cakes’, perfect for feeding a hungry brunch crowd
Kris Kirkham

Andy Lai works as a CHEF AND ORGANIZER at the Taste Library in Hong Kong; a not-for-profit organization that encourages the community to use their cookbook library, take a free classes or engage in SOCIAL GATHERINGS. The oyster cake recipe itself comes from Chiu Chow in southern China, which many of Hong Kong’s ancestry would have originated from. If you can get past the thought of oysters for breakfast, this dish is the PERFECT HANGOVER CURE.


Quantity Ingredient
100g small fresh pearl oysters, (no shell)
3-4 teaspoons potato starch or cornflour
vegetable oil, for deep-frying

The batter

Quantity Ingredient
5 tablespoons plain flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet potato flour
or yam flour
2 fresh eggs
or 1 large duck egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
70ml water
1 spring onion
3 sprigs of fresh coriander

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
chiu chow chilli oil
fish sauce


  1. Wash the oysters in a mixing bowl under running water 2 or 3 times, then pour into a sieve and rub the potato starch or cornflour (cornstarch) gently around them to help rid them of any excess sand or grit. Wash them once more under running water to ensure they are cleaned thoroughly. Then half fill a wok with water and bring to the boil. Blanch the cleaned oysters in the boiling water for 1 minute and pour through a sieve.
  2. Put the flours into a mixing bowl, then crack in the eggs and whisk well. Season with salt and pepper. Depending on the thickness of your batter, you’ll want to add some or all of the 70ml of water, ensuring that the batter is loose, but not watery. Finely chop the spring onion (scallion) and coriander (cilantro), add to the mixing bowl and whisk into the batter.
  3. Place the blanched oysters in the batter and fold in gently.
  4. Half-fill a wok or deep-fryer with vegetable oil and heat to 180°C, or use a wooden skewer or wooden chopstick to test by placing the tip in the oil: if the wood starts to fizz after a second or so, the oil is hot enough. Once the oil is at the right temperature, get ready to pour half the batter directly into the middle of the wok.
  5. The idea of this dish is to make 2 big oyster cakes, so you must be prepared to pour half the mix into the oil in one go, rather than bit by bit. Once you start pouring, do not stop until half the mix is in the wok and the fried oyster cake is intact. Do not stir the mix or oil at any point. Once the cake is formed, turn the heat down to medium and allow it to cook through for 2–3 minutes, basting the top of the cake with oil to cook it through well.
  6. Once the bottom and sides of the cake have started to crisp up and turn golden brown, carefully flip it over and fry for a further 2–3 minutes. Once both sides are golden brown, the cake is cooked, and it will start to float at the top of the oil. Gently remove from the oil – the best way to go about this while keeping it intact is to use a slotted spoon or tongs (or both!) and place the cake carefully on a couple of sheets of kitchen paper to drain off any excess oil.
  7. Repeat with the rest of the mix to make a second oyster cake.
  8. Serve with Chiu Chow chilli oil or some fish sauce and lime juice on the side for dipping.
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