This is July's entry for The Royal Foodie Joust, from Jenn, The Leftover Queen. Last month, Peter over at Kalofagas won the joust and selected the ingredients: Seafood, Cilantro, and Sesame in any form.
I could think of a few Latin seafood/cilantro recipes, or Asian seafood/sesame recipes, but the cilantro and sesame together made me scratch my head a bit. I definitely wanted to skip sesame as a garnish and wanted to use the taste, but sesame oil and cilantro can both be strong, assertive ingredients. I needed an assertive seafood to make a triad, I thought, or use a very little sauce.
Oysters popped into mind for both reasons. This will be a love-it-or-hate-it recipe, because in my experience, oysters on the half-shell have strong proponents and opponents. In fact, I only converted into the pro-oyster camp about a year and a half ago, now I can't get enough of them.
A traditional garnish/sauce for oysters is the mignonette, a mix of wine vinegar, shallots, and cracked black pepper. I made a faux-mignonette using lime-juice as the acid, with sesame oil, shallots, salt, pepper, and cilantro. Just a drizzle of sauce, and yum:
Christey and I were visiting my family in St Pete this weekend, and I found a seafood store selling Apalachicola oysters for $3.99/dozen. I'm much more fond of cold-water oysters from the Pacific Northwest, or Northeast US/Canada, but Apalachicola is the best Gulf oyster, in my opinion. Must be the river or springs or something in that area. And, yeah, July is pretty far from an 'R' month, but they were still really good.
I'm not the best oyster shucker in the world, and I got some grit in there, but such is the territory.
Faux-Mignonette: 1 tsp sesame oil 2 tbsp olive oil 1 lime, juiced 1 small shallot, minced very finely 1 tsp kosher salt 1 tsp coarse cracked black pepper 1/2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
The faux-mignonette is best when mixed, then chilled for a while so the flavors can blend well, and the acid cooks the shallots a bit. I chilled mine for a couple hours.
Plate a platter of ice, lay out the oysters, put the chilled faux-mignonette in the center with a small spoon, garnish with cilantro:
Deconstruction: This actually tasted better than I hoped. The sesame oil is so strong, when I first made it and it was still warm, it was all I could taste. Chilling definitely mellowed it out, and I think the acid enhanced the green taste of the cilantro. A drizzle over each oyster, right before eating, made a really interesting (in a good way) triad of flavors. Out of a group of a dozen or so family and friends this Saturday, there were maybe 5 oyster eaters, but we went through these quickly. Everyone else was surprised how good the sauce was, too, so I'd say this was a success, with some pleasant surprise thrown in for fun.