Oysters with Mignonette Granita

Small, fun foods and big, Serious news star in this week’s post.

mignonette granita for oystersRaw oysters, hard alcohol and grilled peaches are only the breakfast of champions under certain controlled circumstances. Although I can think of a few others, the best excuse for this type of tomfoolery is a vacation. I’ve been looking for a reason to share this week’s recipe with you for quite some time, and vacation seems like just the one — even though the inspiration for the recipe comes from a restaurant in our home town.

Hoboken’s 3 Forty Grill sports a funny little raw bar. In part, it’s funny bad, because in direct contravention of the Little Raw Bar Book of Etiquette in my head, they won’t let you order fewer than six of a particular type of oyster. It’s not that I have a hard time polishing off six oysters in a matter of seconds while my dining companions are searching for the tiny stud earring I “accidentally” dropped on the floor, trust me. It’s just that for several years now, I’ve been madly scribbling on a tiny part of the white space in my brain, trying to figure out what could motivate such a policy. I’ve watched plenty of experts shuck oysters and even shucked my own thumb on occasion, thank you very much, and I have yet to encounter anyone who prefers doing six at once over doing just the one.

Under ordinary circumstances, a girl might vote with her wallet and order her oysters elsewhere. But my friends, the oyster-eating circumstances at 3 Forty are far from ordinary. To balance out the funny bad, they offer funny good — funny oh so good — in a tiny little metal cup. The goodness has no given name, but those of us who have been around the oyster trough and the dessert tray a time or two will recognize it instantly as a Mignonette Granita.

oysters with mignonette granita

If you speak restaurant Fritalian, you know exactly what I mean, and your mouth is already gleeking.

If you’re normal (poor, dear you), (a) you probably stopped reading this blog some time ago or (b) you might like a translation. Mignonette sauce is a lovely little condiment for oysters made of vinegar, shallot, peppercorns, and sometimes a bit of wine, sugar, salt and herbs. Granita is a frozen or semi-frozen dessert made by raking flavored liquid with a fork as it freezes, breaking up the ice into small pieces. Mignonette Granita is a delightful example of the culinary gestalt this website exists for. I’ll leave you with that so you have time to stop by the fish market before it closes.

ingredients for zucchini & corn fritters

But before you go, I’m excited to announce that starting today I’ll be writing a weekly column for the wonderful food blog Serious Eats. Every Tuesday The Crisper Whisperer will help CSA members, gardeners, farmers’ market shoppers and other interested parties make good use of seasonal bounty. First up, zucchini — the Brangelina of produce. You can find the column, including a recipe for Zucchini Corn Fritters, here.

Mignonette Granita

Inspired by 3 Forty Grill

½ cup red wine vinegar
1 shallot, minced
5 peppercorns, crushed
2 pinches salt
2 pinches sugar

Combine all ingredients in a very small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat on the stovetop or on high power in the microwave. Boil for 30 seconds, then remove from heat and let cool completely. Pour cooled mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a small baking dish or other freezer-safe container just big enough to hold the mixture in a shallow layer. Freeze the mixture, scraping every hour or so with a fork to break up the ice into small pieces, until fully frozen (probably about 3 hours). Serve in a small, very cold bowl as a condiment for oysters on the half shell.

  • Jill

    Beautiful photos…
    and LOVE the use of the word “gleeking”! :o)
    Unfortunately I may be somewhat, “normal”… or chicken would be another way to put it… I’ve only tried oysters once. gasp.ReplyCancel

  • Huyen

    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I love raw oysters. Are oysters sold by the dozen? I don’t know. If they are, I can see why restaurants wouldn’t want to break them up into odd combinations. Maybe restaurants want to make sure the kitchen staff aren’t ‘misplacing’ the odd oysters. I know I’d be tempted to ‘lose’ one. I’ve been trying to finish “A Geography of Oysters” but every time I pick it up, I become inexplicably hungry for oysters and I have to walk away!ReplyCancel

  • Huyen, I guess I don’t really know how restaurants buy oysters, but I’ve eaten them at many, many, manymanymany restaurants and never encountered a similar policy. Also, sometimes I just like to complain about luxuries.ReplyCancel

  • Priya


  • Thanks, Priya!ReplyCancel

  • anne

    so where do you buy oysters in hoboken or nearby so that I can make this wonderful concoction?ReplyCancel

  • Anne, we usually eat oysters at the shore, but The Lobster Place at Chelsea Market is a great place to get them (and other seafood) here.ReplyCancel

  • I laughed out loud several times while reading this post. Love the idea of granita for oysters! And in fact, I think I am a huge fan of the 6/per order policy. That way bulking up my order seems necessary rather than frivolous. I’m going to have to hop on the path and try it! Do you have a favorite oyster spot in Manhattan?

    Next: the earring trick.


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  • Marco

    I think the policy of at least six oysters doesn’t make any sence, what about if I want to order seven then? But, yes, I’ve seen it in some places. The other part of this that doesn’t make sence is that they have the oysters priced by unit, therefore people should be able to get as many or few as they’d like.
    To Carolyn, congrats on the wonderful work you’ve done here on he website, and thanks for the recipe, personally I like to leave my mignonette without straining, but that’s just a matter of personal taste ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Mike

    Thank you Umami Girl for this recipe! I have wondered for years how to recreate this granita and never knew where to start. I was at 340 Grill last night and tried to order 8 oysters (2 for each of us) and they wouldn’t do it. They also refused to seat us in the dining area that was empty because of some “reservations” They have great food but stupid policies. Maybe next you can figure out how they make that Rosemary RedWine Butter that they slather on the Steak FritesReplyCancel

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