Sweet, smoky, salty, spicy... all in a little bite of the ocean! Oysters on the Half Shell with Blood Orange Mignonette is a simple and elegant starter course for adventurous foodies.
As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.
~~ Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast
What is "Mignonette?"
The first time I actually had mignonette was in Bodega Bay - north of San Francisco - when we celebrated my Dad's 75th birthday in 2013. We ate lunch at a Portuguese bait and tackle shop that had the most unbelievably fresh oysters I've ever had the pleasure of sliding into my mouth. That is when my love affair with mignonette began. Until that day, I had always enjoyed oysters on the half shell with a lemon wedge and cocktail sauce...
Mignonette is a sauce made with vinegar, finely minced shallots, and cracked pepper. Originally, mignonette referred to a cheesecloth sachet of peppercorns, cloves, and herbs, and it was used to flavor liquids. You may find a variety of other ingredients in the sauce, but it will contain (good quality) vinegar, finely minced shallots, and cracked pepper.
So, how did I "land" on a Blood Orange Mignonette? I tend to cook with fresh, seasonal ingredients, and as I've mentioned, blood oranges are amazing in the RGV this time of year. I wanted to take the mignonette sauce in a less-traditional direction, and given my enthusiasm for our local healthy Mexican flavor profile, it seemed like a good place to start.
This combination of blood orange juice, Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar (substitute champagne vinegar), finely minced shallot and jalapeño, and fresh cracked pepper is good enough to drink on its own, but oh it makes the oysters sing! I cannot wait to prepare Oysters on the Half Shell with Blood Orange Mignonette as a starter for our stay-at-home Valentine's Day dinner...
Making Oysters with Blood Orange, Bacon, Jalapeño Mignonette
My husband shucks the oysters, while I make the mignonette sauce. I found a perfect tool on Amazon - a Zyliss Oyster Tool and Knife Set. Last year during oyster season, we had to open oysters with a flat head screw driver. Injuries ensued. In 10 minutes, the oysters and the mignonette sauce are nestled in their bed of ice. You know what they say about oysters right? 😀 These little beauties disappeared in an instant!
The mignonette requires only a few ingredients - champagne vinegar, bacon, blood orange juice, jalapeño, shallot, fresh ground pepper and salt. Once the bacon is fried and crumbled, the jalapeño and shallot finely minced, the orange squeeze, it all gets whisked together.
Do you have a partner willing to shuck the oysters? Once the mignonette is whisked together, arrange everything on a platter with some ice to keep them cold!
Tips and Suggestions for Making Oysters with Blood Orange Mignonette
- Make the mignonette in advance and shuck the oysters just prior to serving. You can keep it in the refrigerator a day or two.
- If you don't want to buy a bottle of Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar, champagne or white wine vinegar is fine.
- If blood oranges are not in season, substitute an orange, tangerine, or clementine.
We LOVED this dish paired with a Lemon Cucumber Basil Martini (future post). The lemon complemented the oysters and citrus notes. The oysters and mignonette sauce would also pair well with a crisp sauvignon blanc, or for craft beer lovers, a Saison.
I have recently (with fear and trepidation) decided I need to do more (and better) videos. If you will leave a comment on this post expressing interest in an oyster shucking and/or mignonette sauce video, I promise to provide one! Would you like to see more or fewer recipes featuring these types of ingredients?
Recommended Tools and Pantry Items:
- Zyliss Oyster Tool and Knife Set
- Tasting Square Plate Set
- Salt and Pepper Grinder Set
- Lenox Stainless Steel Tray
- Whole Peppercorns