Oyster Mignonette Sauces

The Festive season is also shellfish season, when oysters in particular are at their finest.  The French know this, which is why it’s traditional to enjoy fruits de mer on Christmas Eve, and why if you ever visit a French supermarket in the days before Christmas you’ll see pallets full of shellfish on ice for sale.  Here in Cornwall we’re spoilt for choice with some of the finest seafood and shellfish, so just before Christmas we paid a visit to Porthilly Shellfish at Rock on the Camel Estuary in North Cornwall.  We’ll be featuring their story and amazing produce in our next “Meet The…” article, but with last postage dates fast approaching we thought it best to share some amazing mignonette recipes to inspire you to order in some oysters to celebrate Christmas in style.

chef tutor rupert cooper eating oysters on the beach at porthilly

First Up: How To Shuck An Oyster

Take your oyster knife (and taking care – it’s a good idea to hold the oyster in a folded tea towel or a thick glove) and insert it into the small hole at the back of the oyster hinge, where the lid meets the cup.  Pacific oysters like the ones raised by Porthilly Shellfish  tend to be teardrop shaped and this makes it easier as it’s the obviously pointy end.

Carefully push the blade of the knife in until you can twist it and use the leverage to “pop” the oyster open.

Run the sharp blade around the inside, holding it flush against the inside of the lid to sever the oyster from the shell, until you can remove the lid.

Then run the blade around the inside of the cup to sever the abductor muscle that holds the meat to the shell, taking care not to spill any of the liquor.

You’re good to go!

porthilly oyster

Oyster Mignonette Sauces

a selection of oyster mignonette sauces

Clockwise from top left:

Classic Shallot And Red Wine Vinegar

  • ½  Shallot
  • Red wine vinegar to taste


  • ½ Orange – squeezed
  • Small amount of rocket
  • ½ Shallot


  • 1 Spring onion
  • Small handful chives
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ Lemon


  • Chilli
  • Coriander
  • Wasbi
  • Rice vinegar
  • Adjust quantities to your preference


  • 2 jalapenos
  • handful dill
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 1/2 shallot
  • Red wine vinegar to taste
preparing mignonette for oysters on the beach at porthilly, rock

If you’d like to order in some of Cornwall’s finest shellfish for a seasonal Christmas treat, delivered fresh to your door, you can order online from Simply Oysters or Fish For Thought.

If you fancy learning more about cooking with and eating shellfish then click through to find out more about our Half-Day Fish, Fish In A Day, and Advanced Fish Cookery courses

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