Oysters with Caesar Mignonette and Celery
Published June 9, 2018
This may come as a surprise, but despite what we have always been told, it actually is possible
to eat (and enjoy!) oysters all year round and not only in months that end with ‘r’.
This rule, evidently developed pre-refrigeration, was made for three primary reasons. The first
being to help remind people that during warmer months it is much more likely that shellfish will
spoil in the heat. As we all know however, thanks to the miracle of modern refrigeration, these
days it is much easier to keep oysters fresh and safe for consumption
The second is that increased ocean temperature during the non ‘r’ months can make for more
harmful bacteria in the water which, in turn, is then filtered by the oysters. When ingested, these
bacteria can make humans sick. Responsible fishmongers and oyster-enthusiasts alike
understand the importance of harvesting these briney delicacies responsibly from cool water
farms, especially during months that are potentially problematic. Still it is important to note that
the only way to ensure you won’t get sick from eating raw oysters is to cook them.
The third and final reason that is given for why not to eat oysters in the late spring and summer,
is that oysters spawn in warmer water. This can give them a fattier, sweeter and milkier texture,
unlike the more firm, briny ones found more readily in the winter. But there is absolutely no
reason why they still can’t be enjoyed just the same! Having discovered this for myself on a
recent trip to Brittany, I was surprised by how sweet and pleasant they were.
In France, oysters are enjoyed simply. Either plain in all their glory, or with a quick squeeze of
lemon juice which turns up their natural sea flavour. For the sweeter spring and summer
oysters, I prefer however, to eat them with an added dose of mignonette.
Mignonette is a classic sauce served with raw oysters made with vinegar, minced shallots and
freshly cracked black pepper. This recipe, while I guess technically not really a mignonette at all,
is a play on Canada’s classic cocktail, the Caesar! I default to calling it mignonette for lack of a
better word and because ‘sauce’ just doesn’t seem quite fancy enough for this concoction.
The acidity of the tomatoes and the spiciness of the tabasco in this recipe really lend well to the
sweetness of the small Fine de Claire oysters I picked up from the fishmonger at the market. To
note: Fine de Claire oysters are common here in France, but feel free to substitute any other
smallish oysters you can find near you in Canada like Kusshi or Fanny Bay for example.
The brunoise of celery is annoying to cut, but you will see is worth it. If not for the extra caesar-
style garnish flavour it lends to the mix, then at least for the fact that it makes slurping back a
dozen or so of these babies all the more convenient.
Link to recipe here.