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One of my favorite things about summer is chilled shellfish on hot days. I’m not alone in this, there’s a reason Stella’s Fish Cafe is so popular here in MN, rooftop patio and tons of options from sushi to peel and eat shrimp and of course, oysters. What’s not to love?
Truthfully, I used to be so disgusted by oysters, maybe it was because working in restaurants (especially working at Stella’s) and having to clean and shuck the things is a huge turn off. But one summer, Arlo and I visited Chicago and had these really great, clean oysters with an awesome mignonette and it completely changed how I feel about them. While I won’t say I love them, I’ve definitely developed a taste.
If you’re not familiar with mignonette, I wasn’t either until I worked in a French restaurant. Mignonette in its simplest form is shallot, red wine vinegar, a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. It’s nice, but not great. I love making a really vibrant, refreshing mignonette with a little bit of spice because oysters aren’t super flavorful, but with the right additions can be a really delicious and refreshing snack.
So, my mignonette is made with a classic base, shallot and red wine vinegar, but I add mango, cucumber and cilantro to freshen it up and then radish and serrano peppers for a little bit of a kick. This stuff is just plain and simple really good. If you’re not on the oyster boat yet, this recipe might just get you there.
How To’s of Oysters
If you’ve never purchased, cleaned or shucked an oyster, it can be a bit of a learning experience, here are my best tips and how to’s.
Buying Your Oysters: The first step of course, is buying. In MN, you can’t purchase oysters to go because of food safety laws. So your first step is finding out where you can actually purchase Oysters. If you’re in the Twin Cities area, Coastal Seafoods is a great place to get oysters and all of your other seafood needs, the prices and quality are much better than going to a grocery store.
Next, you’ll have to decide between East or West Coast oysters, I usually go with East, or half and half. If you’re new to oysters, I suggest asking for a medium sized, smooth shelled variety. These are the easiest to clean and shuck. When you get into rougher shells, they can be very difficult to clean and the shells are usually very fragile. If you get really big oysters, the shell often breaks at the half-way point while you’re shucking. The people working are generally very helpful with any questions you have and can make suggestions based on their selection, so trust them.
Cleaning: Unless you’re able to get your oysters pre-cleaned, you’ll have to do a little bit of scrubbing. It’s simple but necessary. To clean an oyster, start by plugging your sink. Place the oysters in the bottom and cover them in cold water. Swish them around a bit to loosen any dirt, then drain the water. Turn on a steady stream of cold water and using a course scrubby (I literally do not know what else to call them), scrub each oyster all over the top, bottom and sides. Rinse under cold water and either shuck immediately or place on ice (see note on ice below) until ready to use. Try to work as quickly as you can. Here’s a link to the scrubby I like to use: click here.
Storing your oysters: If you can, I suggest buying the oysters the day you plan to use them. Be sure to keep the refrigerated until you’re ready to shuck. If you have to keep them more than 8 hours, you’ll need to place them on ice. If you can, it’s best to used crushed ice. Place the ice in a container with holes or slits, like a colander or fine mesh strainer, and place that in a container with enough room for the melted ice to drain without touching the oysters. Cover the oysters with another layer of crushed ice and place them in the fridge until you’re ready to use. Draining the water and replenishing the ice as needed. You don’t want oysters to “swim” it’s unsanitary and they tend to open up. I use a fine mesh strainer inside a large, deep mixing bowl.
Shucking: The final step is shucking the oysters! Here’s a really great video. You’ll need. a steady, flat surface, a towel, and an oyster knife. When you’re finished shucking, you’ll want to place the oysters on a plate of crushed ice.
|Prep: 15 Minutes||Difficulty: Medium||Servings: 12 Oysters|
- 12 Oysters, cleaned and shucked
- 1 Small Shallot, finely minced
- 1 Tbsp Mango, finely minced
- 1 Serrano or Jalapeño, seeds removed, finely minced
- 1 Radish, finely minced
- 1 Tbsp Cilantro, finely minced
- 2 Tbsp Cucumber, finely minced
- 1/3 C Red Wine Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Black Pepper to taste
- Lemon Wedges
- Start by finely mincing or bruniose each item. The easiest way to do this is to mince/ dice everything as small as you can, and then continue to rough chop the ingredients until they’re very small. For the radish and cucumber, you can use a vegetable peeler to create even slices and then cut those slices into thin strips and those thin strips into tiny squares, aka brunoise.
- Place all the finely minced items into a small bowl and mix with red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Place the oysters on a bed of crushed ice and serve with mignonette and lemon wedges.
As always, I hope you enjoyed this recipe! If you tried it out let me know in the comments. For more recipes check out my homepage and follow along on Instagram. Don’t forget to like, follow, comment and share. Thanks for reading!
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