Our love affair with the tender mollusk began with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Ever since she rose from the sea on an oyster shell and the term aphrodisiac was coined, oysters have been synonymous with romance. Aficionados of raw oysters believe that a drop or two of sharp mignonette sauce is the ultimate accompaniment to their clean, briny crispness and I couldn’t agree more.
It’s that easy: When serving oysters on the half shell, quality is of utmost importance. Search out Olympic oysters from the Pacific Northwest, or Belon, Blue Point or Wellfleet oysters from the east coast for the most succulent flavor.
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- 2 tablespoons shallot
- 1/4 cup white wine or champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 5 black peppercorns
- 18 fresh oysters, shells scrubbed and shucked on the half shell
- 3 cups crushed ice
- On a cutting board, finely chop the shallot.
- Combine the shallot, vinegar, honey, salt and peppercorns in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool.
- Pick out the peppercorns and transfer mixture to a small metal pan and place in the freezer until solid. Scrape the surface with a fork to make a frozen snowcone-like, icy texture and return to the freezer.
- Spread 1/2-inch of ice or kosher salt (if you’re going to eat them fast) on a platter. Arrange the chilled oysters on the half shell so that they don’t tip over. Working quickly, sprinkle about 1/4-teaspoon of the mignonette granita on each oyster. Serve immediately.
In the glass: A glass of champagne, Sauvignon Blanc or a dirty vodka martini sounds perfect.