Oysters with Mignonette Sauce

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oysters

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.

Ingredients

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

Method

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.

Tuna Jerky

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jerkies

This is a fantastic cocktail food. And, of course, because it’s jerky, it’s good on the trail. (Especially if your trail is in Hawaii.) If you are tuna free, this works with any good meaty fish.

Ingredients

2 pounds tuna, snapper, trout, bass, or other firm-fleshed fish, cut into strips about ¼ inch thick

2 cups pineapple, finely chopped (or canned crushed pineapple with the juice)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1 teaspoon unrefined salt—try a Hawaiian salt, like Alaea or Black Lava, Japanese shio, Arabian Fleur de Sel, a smoked salt, or a salt infused with roasted garlic, dashi, seaweed, sesame, Szechuan peppercorns, or chile

Method

  1. Toss all ingredients, toss to coat fish, and refrigerate overnight ( at least 12 hours).
  1. Place a wire rack onto a baking sheet, and coat it well with pan spray. Drain off the marinade and arrange the fish on the rack. Cook at 150° F for 2 hours, then turn the temperature down to 130° F (or open the oven door) and continue cooking for another 2-4 hours, until the fish is dry, but not crisp. They should crack when bent, but should not break easily. Cool completely, then store airtight in the refrigerator.

Variations

Dehydrator and Smoker—This jerky dries better in a dehydrator, and has more flavor when made in a smoker. If you have either of those contraptions, by all means, go for it. Follow the manufacture’s instructions, and use the same guidelines for temperature and doneness.

Commercial sauces – The addition of commercial teriyaki or BBQ sauce into your marinade will certainly work. Most contain a lot of sugar, so consider omitting the brown sugar from the recipe.

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