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Oysters with mignonette sauce

January 3, 2011

The South Melbourne Market certainly swings into action prior to Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The way people shop, anyone would think the stalls were closing down for at least a month.

On the Tuesday before Christmas things were very quiet. This was one of the market’s extra days but I don’t think too many people were aware of it, in spite of flyers being handed out the previous weekend and holiday hours being advertised outside the market. Stallholders seemed to agree - business was slow.

I went over on the Wednesday and picked up the necessary meat for Christmas dinner – an excellent leg of lamb that I placed in the freezer then moved to the fridge on the Friday to thaw slowly. I also bought fresh green prawns to freeze. Past experience has taught me the Christmas Eve crowds get eight deep at the fishmongers’ counters though there was clearly no sign stocks were likely to run out.

Things hotted up again prior to New Year’s Eve when we decided to treat ourselves to some Tasmanian oysters before joining neighbours for post-dinner drinks.

This time I decided to do a traditional mignonette sauce and I also made some tiny sourdough cucumber sandwiches to go on the side. Both of these are hardly recipes. My mignonette sauce contained a couple of tablespoons of finely chopped spring onion, freshly ground pepper, a little salt and 90ml good red wine vinegar. Sherry vinegar is another option.

For the cucumber sandwiches I peeled a Lebanese cucumber and ran the tines of a fork lengthwise down it to make a fancy edge when the cucumber was thinly sliced. It’s a good idea to light salt the slices and sprinkle them with a little white wine vinegar. Drain them well before making tiny sandwiches. I used sourdough bread because that’s what I had but this is one case where thinly sliced soft white bread really comes into its own.

I suspect this will be my last oyster meal for a while as I don’t like them when they go slimy during spawning season and not even cooking will rescue them. Meanwhile I’ll have a $1 oyster shot from time to time for quality checking purposes…


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