Mignonette Sauce for Oysters

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Do you like raw oysters? My brother Matt lives in Point Reyes and has access to wonderful oysters from Tomales Bay.

Lately he’s been bringing a few dozen with him when he comes to visit. The oyster eaters among us gather and have quite the feast when he arrives.

My favorite accompaniment to fresh, raw oysters is this mignonette—a piquant sauce made with vinegar and shallots that you sprinkle on top of the oyster, much like a squeeze of lemon juice.

It’s a lovely balance to the briny, somewhat creamy oysters.

By the way, according to my resident French expert, “mignonette” translates roughly into “cute, small, and tasty”, and that’s exactly what this is.

Mignonette Sauce for Oysters Recipe

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  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Marinating time: 4 hours
  • Yield: Makes about a cup and a half, easily enough for several dozens of oysters.

Make the mignonette at least 4 hours ahead of time, preferably a day or two, which allows for the flavors to blend, and the shallots to mellow.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup minced shallots (about 2 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup clear, unseasoned rice vinegar*
  • 1/8 teaspoon of sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon of finely crushed white peppercorns (do not use pre-ground or powdered white pepper)

*If using seasoned rice vinegar, omit the sugar and salt

 

Method

1 Finely mince the shallots: Peel and coarsely chop the shallots. Put them into a food processor and pulse a few times, until the shallots are finely minced, but not mush, with pieces no smaller than the tip of a match.

You can also finely mince by hand if you wish. The advantage of using a food processor is that the food processor bowl captures all of the liquid released by the shallots as they are minced, which will enhance the flavor of the mignonette.

2 Stir in white vinegar, rice vinegar, sugar, salt: Place the minced shallots and any liquid released from them in a non-reactive (glass or pyrex) bowl. Add the white vinegar, rice vinegar, and sugar and salt. Stir with a fork.

Add the freshly crushed white pepper. Stir with a fork.

3 Chill: Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of four hours. For best results, store for at least 2 days before using.

The mignonette flavor will be better blended the longer it sits. You may notice that the crushed white peppercorns may sink to the bottom of the bowl as the mignonette rests. If you see this, just give it a little stir.

The mignonette will last up to a month in the refrigerator.

To serve, shuck the oysters. (Here is an excellent video by Serious Eats on How to Shuck an Oyster.) Make sure that the oyster is loose in the shell before serving.

Usually the mignonette sauce is served in a small bowl with a small spoon, alongside the oysters on a platter (or as the French say, "plateau de coquillages"). People can scoop a small amount of the mignonette (1/8 of a teaspoon or so) onto their oyster before eating.

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Links:

The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell - a fascinating book about the history of New York City, from the perspective of the oyster trade. By Mark Kurlansky.

Asian mignonette, with rice vinegar, ginger, shallots, and coriander from Jaden at SteamyKitchen.com

Mignonette granita - a lot like our mignonette, but in shaved ice form, from Umami Girl

Asian pear mignonette from Greg at SippitySup

Sparkling rosé mignonette from Peter of Kalofagas

Mignonette Sauce for Oysters

Showing 4 of 11 Comments

  • Chris

    This an amazing recipe. Just had it for the 5th time with my favorite Pacific NW Kushi oysters. I got a great idea from a local restaurant in Seattle to freeze it then serve it a crushed ice. It adds a refreshing dimension that you will just have to try to experience how incredibly good it is.

  • curiouscook

    please mince your shallots opposed to relying on a food processor. The end result will be dramatically superior. By mincing (not chopping with a chef knife) the flavor/juice will remain intact until crushed by your teeth with enjoying the oyster resulting in enjoying the sauce to as it was originally prepared.

  • Mark L.

    Great local source for fresh oysters (and other seafood) in Sacramento is Sunh Fish, 1301 Broadway, inside the Asian food center. Miyagi’s are around $.60 each and kumamoto’s for $.95.

  • Katie

    I am obsessed with oysters lately! Just can’t get enough of them. A good mignonette can not be undervalued. I love your blend of two vinegars. I had a mignonette at a restaurant on Saturday night made with Sherry vinegar. It was way too overpowering. I am definitely going to try yours when we have an oyster party next month.

  • Kelly

    This is our standard sauce as well, but after having tried a frozen version at The Metropolitan Grill in Seattle, we’ve started serving it that way. Sort of a sorbet or granita for your oysters.

    Just make the mignonette and then freeze it. Check back before it freezes totally solid (which of course will depend on how much you’ve made and how deep your container is) and scratch it up with a fork.

    You end up using a little bit more, so it’s worth making a larger batch than normal if you’re planning to serve it frozen.

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