I worked as an Oyster Shucker at Taste Catering during college. One particularly memorable gig was an Apple Computer party held at the California Academy of Sciences aquarium. Our bar, complete with 6 foot dolphin ice sculptures, was setup in front of the alligator pit and next to Huey Lewis and the News. It was about 1989, and along with a partner, we rocked out to I want a new Drug, while dispatching over 3,500 oysters in a single night...my hands still hurt thinking about it. But let me tell you, I found my new drug: Oysters with Mignonette Sauce. The basic version we served that night was roughly:
1 cup champagne vinegar
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1/4 tsp fresh ground white pepper
To prepare, we boiled the alcohol out of the white wine. The shallots were also chopped and rinsed in cold water, which crisps them and removes a bitter flavor. The above was mixed in advance and served chilled. This sauce blew me away with its ability to enhance the flavor of oysters, unlike cocktail sauce, which covers up the essence of these wonderful bivalves that give up their lives for our enjoyment. OK, fast forward about 20 years and things have evolved. Somewhere along the line the Mignonette became a popular sauce with oysters, but with a twist...it's now often frozen as a granité. I absolutely love this development, with one caveat..too many places make it sweet and fruity..I prefer the dry acidic versions. Now that we are back in Seattle, Sheri and I visited Taylor Shellfish (look for more on them in the future) and picked up several dozen oysters. Last night I decided to try a new twist on Mignonette, substituting Sake and Rice Vinegar into the above recipe. I also used a fun party trick to freeze the sauce, here's how:
- Get 2 plastic zipper bags, one gallon bag and one quart bag
- Fill the smaller bag with the sauce
- Fill the larger bag half way with Ice, crushed if possible, and 1 cup of salt
- Place the smaller bag inside the big bag
- Shake, massage, and generally molest the combo for 5-10 minutes
You will see that the salt melts the ice, lowering the freezing point of the water, and thereby quickly freezing the Mignonette into a slush. This sour, slightly crunchy, pink icee is shockingly good even by itself, but pure bliss on an oyster! Here's a little video I created of last night's experiment; but please excuse the shakiness...I cooked with one hand while operating the camera with the other:
Check out Hog Island Oysters for a variety of Mignonette recipes, including Hogwash.
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