Raw Bar with Asian Mignonette (Oysters and Clams)

Raw Oysters with Asian Mignonette Recipe

If I were stuck on a tropical island, I’d make sure I brought an oyster and clam opener knife thingy. All those oysters…ALLLLL MINE…wait. Do oysters and clams even grow in the tropics? If they don’t, well…they SHOULD. What’s the point of being stranded on an island if there are no oysters to be eaten?

Normally, I only eat raw oysters and clams at raw bars, leaving the hard work of prying open the rock-hard mouth to trained professionals who are more patient and deft than I.

But, last week, I couldn’t resist. At Fresh Market in town, my inner daredevil kicked in and I need to conquer the shell. Plus, it didn’t help that four-year old Nathan was in the shopping cart and asked, “Mommy, how come we can’t buy oysters?” Yeah, and what was I going to say, “cuz Mommy can’t open them?” I’m Nathan’s superhero! How could Super-Mom be defeated by a three-inch tight-lipped marine mollusk?

As Yoda would say, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Okay, fine. Bastards. I do. Nathan picked out each oyster and chose not the cute, itty, bitty Littleneck clams, but the mammoth four-inch Cherrystone clams.

Words cannot describe the debacle that I went through to open a dozen of each. That pointy, thick knife with the big wooden handle called an oyster knife? Useless on the clams. Thinking back to the opening_coconut coconut opening catastrophe I experienced last year, I headed to the garage to find husband’s tools.

A hammer, chisel and the vice grip in the garage didn’t even crack the thing. Powerdrill, level and the wirecutter, nada. Even the Jedi force was no match for these guys.



I finally admitted defeat and recruited husband (AFTER I tiptoed back from garage and laid his tools back EXACTLY where they were).

Oh, and do NOT ask me about that one clam in the photo up above that is unopened. I do NOT want to talk about it.


“The clam that kicked my Mom’s ass.”



I’m not a fan of the traditional jarred horseradish and cocktail sauce, mainly because those strong flavors mask the delicate taste of the raw oysters and clams! Jim, owner of the Lucky Pelican in Sarasota, gave me his secret Asian Mignonette that he serves with his raw oysters and clams. Many thanks to him. If you don’t have seasoned or sweetened rice vinegar, use the unseasoned rice vinegar and add a pinch of sugar.


Lookie how gorgeous these raw oysters and clams are!

How to Shuck Oysters and Clams

Really? Are you going to really ask my professional advice?

If you want to learn how to shuck raw oysters, watch this dude on oysters, these guys have a fab video on how to shuck oysters too. This is a video for clams. Yeah. I should consulted Sir Internet before embarking on my oyster and clam shucking adventure.


Raw Bar (Oysters and Clams) with Asian Mignonette Recipe

John, the seafood dude at Fresh Market, tells me that the best way to determine whether an oyster or clam is fresh, alive and well is to knock ’em. Specifically, knock two against each other or one against the counter. If they sound hollow, throw ’em away. Also, oysters and clams should be closed super-tight (um, YEAH. I know.) When you get home, grab 2 bowls, one that fits inside the other. Unbag the oysters and clams and put them in the smaller bowl. Fill larger bowl with ice and put the smaller bowl inside, on top of the ice. Refrigerate. According to John, if stored properly, they’ll last for a few days like that. But I always go by the rule of eating them same day or next day.

1 dozen fresh oysters in shell
1 dozen fresh clams in shell
1 dozen extra large cooked shrimp

For the Asian Mignonette
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons sweetened (seasoned) rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red peppercorns
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1 teaspoon finely minced shallots
1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds (optional)

In a small bowl, whisk together the Asian Mignonette ingredients. Set aside while you carefully shuck the oysters and clams. Serve the Asian Mignonette, shrimp, oysters and clams on a bed of crushed ice.

Serves 4 as appetizer

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Comments 27

  1. KennyT

    Haha, Jaden, it’s always enjoyable to read your blog. It’s brighten up my day (esp when I’m at work) and my colleagues suspect I have mental problems when they saw me smiling in front of my PC monitor………….

    “Oh, and do NOT ask me about that one clam in the photo up above that is unopened. I do NOT want to talk about it.” > that clam was dead or what? haha

  2. Maya

    I just had my first raw oyster/clam experience 3 weeks ago at this trendy little place in Hoboken. This mignonette looks so fresh and tasty!

  3. Hilton

    Boy, that Mignonette sounds good. I’m not even going to try and open oysters…wonder if I can make the sauce and sneak it into an oyster bar! When I was a kid, the boat out to Ship Island off Biloxi, MS, would stop half-way out and haul up fresh oysters off the Gulf floor; they’d open them and we’d eat them while they were still wigglin’. Your post brought back all those memories. Love your site, Jaden.

  4. varsha

    I loved all the pics here Jaden..I almost laughed out reading this post..ur boy is so cute..:)
    love cooked clams..they are so good for everything..:)

  5. Passionate Eater

    You are so cute that you raid your hubby’s power drill sets and his hardware area! I bet that he is okay with your “borrowing” of his items, so long as you don’t touch his poker stuff. My hubby is the same way. If I touched his poker set, that might be grounds for a divorce. Even if I used his poker card divider thingy to open up some clams. Just cook that other tenacious clam! It will open right up!

  6. Carolina

    OK…I MUST ask about the unopened clam. It’s not fair to ‘tantalise’ us like that. If you didn’t want to be questioned, why did you show it or mention it? If you’d just left it off the plate, nobody would have known, we’d simply think you already ate that one. So, spill. Why is it unopened? (Or, is it your son’s newest pet…LOL!)

    lol! oh i tried for 30 minutes to open that sucker! gave up. ~jaden

  7. Carolina

    BTW…the total lack of fresh seafood here in AZ is sending me back home to WA in the near future. It cannot be too soon for me. I’d much rather put up with ‘rusty’ joints and the rain than no seafood, (among dozens of other ‘nos’ here.)

  8. Janet

    These look gorgeous! I’m with Carolina- Not to much in the way of fresh seafood here in AZ. I wish I could leave!

  9. Single Guy Chef

    Yum, I love oysters! Nice to have an Asian version for the mignonette. Sounds great although I would have ground the peppercorns. Otherwise, good job on the shucking!

  10. Shari

    I love that little red pepper on top! Looks great. I’ve only ever ordered them at a restaurant, but I’m inspired to try opening them at home.

  11. E. Thai

    Love raw oysters, not so much raw clams. Fresh Harvest Restaurant at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa serves up some of the best raw oysters! Last week, they could hardly shuck them fast enough.

  12. threemilechild

    The boyfriend and I used to go to this wonderful place called The Lamp Post. They had a very seafoody type buffet, and one of the things was an old guy with a whole table to himself, a rubber apron, and giant piles of oysters. Boyfriend loves the oysters, me not so much, so he told me about this little kid who comes up and watches the old guy shucking oysters for a minute, and then asks, “Are they… dead?” The old guy’s response: “They are now.”

  13. Murasaki Shikibu

    When I was in my early 20s working for a TV production company – one day a whole big can (2 ft x 1 ft x 1 ft) of fresh live oysters arrived at the company. One of the producers came from an oyster producing region of Japan and her parents sent her the oysters. She said we could have them.

    We had some lemon in the refrigerator from some other shoot so the director who I was assistant to and I sat down with our Swiss knives and started eating the oysters – with just a squeeze of lemon to go with them and we literally got ‘full’ on oysters. lol

    Good times. πŸ™‚

  14. Michelle

    You little boy is SO SO SO CUTE. And I LOVE blogs about Asian food…it makes me feel like I went home for a visit….even if it were only a couple minutes. πŸ™‚ Thank you!

  15. Sanjay

    Hi Jaden – I love your blog… read it daily!

    I noticed that you linked to a video on How to Shuck an Oyster and I wanted to show you this useful video that we have on our site, Howcast.com: How to Shuck an Oyster Video. It’s a useful step-by-step video on the process that we produced in our studios.

    Hopefully, you’ll check it out and see some of the other great cooking videos we have on Howcast.com. Would love to hear what you think and thanks so much for your blog. I’ve already made several of the recipes!

  16. joey

    That looks amazing Jaden! I love raw oysters and clams…especially with mignonette! This Asian one sounds even better!

    Yes, I agree totally…being stranded on an island with no oysters would be so besides the point!

  17. we are never full

    hilarious post. i love that you left that one bastard clam on the tray w/ all the other opened one. HA! this post brought a smile to my face b/c raw bars always remind me of warmth and warm places. i can’t wait for the summer, but i may just go to a delicious restaurant that serves a raw bar instead of busting out the tools to enjoy a fabulous spread like this!

  18. Air Max UK

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this blog. I am hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts from you later on as well. In fact, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own, personal website now πŸ˜‰

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