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 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