Recipe: Classic Oyster Mignonette

Oysters are the food of love, a well know aphrodisiac and ideal for wooing that someone special in your life. We’ve got the simplest and most divine way to serve your freshly shucked oysters. You can’t muck this one up, we promise. It’s so easy, quick to prepare and yummy that we’re sure you’ll be dishing up Classic Oyster Mignonette every date night and plenty of other nights too.
  • 2 tbsp red onion or eschalot, minced
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp raw sugar
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Place all ingredients in a jar and shake well. You can always adjust the flavour if needed. Add more lemon juice and olive oil if you like a less vinegary flavour.  If your lemons are very tart, add more sugar.  
  2. We like to keep ours at room temperature, so the olive oil doesn’t solidify. Once made, this mignonette can keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Sydney Rock Oysters with mignonette
The word ‘mignonette’, (pronounced ‘min-yuh-net’), derives from the French word ‘mignon’, meaning dainty, darling or cute. Adding ‘ette’ to the end simply means little. The term is often used as a pet or baby name in France. Originally the term was used to describe a sachet of herbs used in cooking to flavour sauces. By the 1700s it had evolved to mean a sauce that contained vinegar, pepper and herbs and today it refers to the cracked pepper that is always used in the dressing.
The Americans claim to be the first to have made Oyster Mignonette in the 1930s. Chef Théophile Kieffer at the New Yorker Sherry Netherlands Hotel made the sauce as a condiment to be used with raw oysters on the half-shell.
Mignonette typically contains vinegar, shallots and pepper, although there are a myriad versions. Some include coriander, or jalapenos, some include wine, and a variety of vinegars can be used. Our version includes red wine vinegar and rice wine vinegar. You can use any combination of vinegars depending on the flavours that you prefer. Red wine vinegars have a more fruity, robust flavour, white wine vinegar is lighter and more delicate, rice wine vinegar has a mild, barely sweet flavour and is the least sharp of them all.
The recipe above is famous amongst the Dawson’s Oyster Supplies team as the recipe of owner Hannah Woods.