This is my personal favorite way to eat oysters. The name comes from the OG method of peppercorn crushing. It is done with brute strength, pressing down on whole peppercorns with the bottom of a sauté pan. Forget cocktail sauce. This simple, spicy, acidic concoction is, for me, the perfect counterpoint to briny shellfish. I like to make my sauce a few hours ahead, to give the flavors a chance to macerate.
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon pink peppercorns
1 teaspoon unrefined salt – try Japanese shio, bamboo, flor de sal, something from the American Northwest or Northeast, a smoked salt, or a salt infused with peppercorns, citrus, herbs, fennel, shallots, or red wine.
1 shallot, minced
1 cup good quality red wine vinegar
1 dozen fresh oysters (or more—more is better), shucked, on the half shell
- Place peppercorns (black and pink) and salt on a cutting board. Hold a small sauté pan firmly, one hand on the handle, the other on the rim. Press in s a rolling motion over the peppercorns, crushing them roughly. Repeat until all peppercorns are cracked.
- Combine peppercorns, salt, shallots, and vinegar in a small a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Turn off heat and set aside to steep and macerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
- Shuck the oysters, being careful to keep all the liquid (a.k.a. oyster liquor) in the bottom half of the shell. Nestle shucked oysters into a plate of crushed ice. Keep cold until service. Present shucked oysters with a ramekin of mignonette sauce and a small spoon. Eat oysters with a generous spoonful of mignonette sauce on top of each one.