Thursday, December 27, 2007

Seven Seafoods 2007: Recipe for Alaskan Oysters on the Half Shell with Mignonette Sauce (Στρείδια με Σος Μαυρού Πιπεριού)

We feast on seven seafoods and champagne every Christmas Eve. At least we try to.

Our menu always includes seven seafoods, and we always have the full complement of ingredients in the refrigerator at the start of the evening. But sometimes – and lately, more often than not – we eat too much of the opening courses and are unable to finish the rest of the meal.

I no longer remember when we started this family tradition, but we’ve been doing it every year since at least 1993, which I know because I have notes about that year’s dinner. I’d read about the Italian Feast of the Seven Fishes, and it sounded like an excellent idea. As in Italy, the day before Christmas is a fasting day in Greece, so an all-seafood menu for Christmas Eve had natural appeal.

As I worked on one of this year’s menu items, my husband prowled around, impatient for the feast to begin. He straightened up, poked in corners, and tossed the detritus that mysteriously accumulates in the hidden depths of our kitchen. He handed me an envelope covered with scribbling, wanting to know if it could be thrown away.

On inspection, the scribbling was last year’s Christmas Eve menu, surfacing exactly one year after it was used: perfect timing. In 2006, with friends Jake and Moira, we enjoyed Shrimp Pâté with Garlic Toasts, Tuna Tartare with Mint, Sesame Oil, and Hot Peppers, Oysters with Blood Orange Champagne Granita, Fried Calamari with Anchovy Mayonnaise, Scallops with Lemon Vinaigrette over Roasted Tomatoes and Broccoli Raab, and King Crab Cakes, accompanied by green salad, crusty bread, champagne, and lemon ice cream for dessert.

This year it was just the two of us for dinner, and our menu was simpler: Alaskan Oysters with Mignonette Sauce, Tuna Tartare with Mint, Sesame Oil, and Hot Peppers, Spicy Pesto Grilled Shrimp, Periwinkles in Dill-Onion Wine Broth, Fennel-Steamed Clams, Garlic Roasted Crab, and Pan Seared Scallops Piccata, accompanied by crusty bread and champagne.

On Christmas Eve, we only made it from the oysters through the periwinkles before we had to stop. We ate Fennel-Steamed Clams for Christmas lunch with Italian sausage added, Garlic Roasted Crab for dinner the day after Christmas, and had Pan Seared Scallops Piccata for dinner tonight.

For ease of finding them later, I’ll separately post recipes for each of the seven seafoods we enjoyed this year.

Oysters with Mignonette SauceAlaskan Oysters on the Half Shell with Mignonette Sauce (Στρείδια με Σος Μαυρού Πιπεριού)
Serves 2 as appetizers

Because they grow in cold water, Alaskan Oysters are briny sweet. They are particularly tasty when served raw and dressed with a simple sauce of freshly ground black pepper, shallots, and champagne vinegar.

1/4 cup minced shallots
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup champagne vinegar

12 oysters, shucked and on the half shell

Mix together the shallots, freshly ground black pepper, salt, and champagne vinegar. The sauce is best when it is steeped for at least 1 hour, however, I usually make it while my husband is shucking oysters and serve it immediately.

Arrange the shucked oysters on a plate with mignonette sauce on the side. Eaters should drizzle a spoonful of sauce over each oyster, and slurp it down immediately.


Peter M said...

Mignonette sauce is my fave garnish for oysters, bring another dozen please.

Laurie Constantino said...

Coming right up, Peter!

Unknown said...

|Only 1 doz oysters? How about 2.

Laurie Constantino said...

Lennae, OK, just for you I'll force myself to have two. HA!