Please note, the acid in the sauces won’t kill off any germs brewing inside the oyster. So remember, if you’re planning a do-it-yourself oyster feast, only buy oysters from a reputable fishmonger with high turnover, and only eat those oysters that hold themselves tightly closed—the sign of a healthy, happy mollusk.
Keep your oysters well chilled. When ready to eat, rinse and scrub them well under icy water, crack them open, and serve them face up in their shells on a bed of crushed ice. Garnish the plate with a bit of greenery and one or more of these fresh condiments:
1. Mignonette Sauce
- 3 tablespoons fresh ground crushed peppercorns
- 3 tablespoons finely minced shallots
- 2/3 cup good quality white wine vinegar
- Combine all ingredients, and let stand in a glass or ceramic bowl at room temperature overnight.
- Mignonette sauce can be made a week in advance.
Note: Do not use the cheapest grocery store wine vinegar, for the stuff can be villainously salty. In case of emergency, substitute a mixture of half apple-cider vinegar and half white wine. Another note: Substitute white peppercorns and red wine vinegar for variety.
2. Red Bell Pepper and Balsalmic Vinegar Sauce
- 3 tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper
- 1 tablespoon scallion, white part only, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup quality balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
- Cracked pink peppercorns to taste
- In a small bowl, combine all, let sit at room temperature for at least two hours before serving.
- Can be made 24 hours in advance, and refrigerated.
3. Hot Sauce
- McIllhenny Tabasco hot sauce is a classic choice, though it must be noted that oysters and hot sauce go far better with beer than with champagne – try Dixiebeer for the real Southern experience.
4. Fresh Lemon
- Cut the pith away from the center of your lemon wedges, and squeeze away. An accompanying dusting of fresh ground pepper is traditional.
These recipes originally appeared in “Happiness on the Half Shell” in the January/February 2002 issue of Experience Life.