Saturday Is A Good Excuse to Eat Oysters


Whatever you feelings toward Valentine’s Day, it’s as good an excuse as any to eat some oysters, whether or not you’re celebrating. We recently chatted up Bryan Calvert, chef and co-owner of James‘ (605 Carlton Avenue, Brooklyn), on the subject of V day cooking. Calvert says he’s pretty traditional and is a “big fan of oysters and champagne for Valentine’s Day.”

While some might say there’s something a bit cliche about about serving up oysters, with their rumored aphrodisiac properties, on V day, we think Valentine’s Day owes us some oysters for all the hassle and pain it’s caused over the years. And, Calvert was kind enough to share his recipe for a Thai Basil Mignonette that elevates the oysters well above the cliche. The recipe is after the jump.

Sarah DiGregorio teaches you how to shuck oysters.
Robert Sietsema reviews James, one of his “critics’ picks.”

Malpeque Oysters with Thai Basil Mignonette

One dozen fresh oysters

1 teaspoon Mirin
¼ cup high quality red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoon minced shallots
1 Tablespoon freshly crushed coarse black pepper
1 bunch of Thai basil. Chop the basil, reserving two leaves for garnish.

Combine all mignonette ingredients one day before using (or as close to it) and refrigerate in a sealed container.

Remove the basil leaves from the mignonette. Open the oyster. Spoon about 1 tsp of the mignonette sauce on each oyster. Make sure a small amount of pepper and shallots from the mignonette are on each oyster.  Place a small piece of basil garnish on the oyster. Serve on crushed ice.


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