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How do you feel about the traditional accompaniments served with oysters? I'm talking about hot sauces, mignonette sauces, etc. I feel like these sauces overwhelm the taste of the oysters (not that I don't like the sauces, I just treat them like a side dish). Any insight into how these sauces became standard issue with oysters?

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  1. I agree that hot sauce and cocktail sauce are too overpowering for oysters, but I love mignonette with oysters--I think it enhances the oyster's flavor.

    1. Since we regularly do oyster roasts I consider myself somewhat of an expert.

      I'm also spoiled by South Carolina Low Country oysters because they are small and salty.

      We buy them by the bushel as they come in clusters, take them to the car wash and basket wash them (I live in a fishing village and most of our car washes have these giant baskets that rotate for washing oysters) because you must get the creek mud off them.

      Throw them on a hot grill and throw a wrung out wet towel over them. Steam until just cracked open.

      I serve them with beer, melted butter, and my own cocktail sauce.

      1 cup Heinz catsup (must be Heinz)
      1/2 cup horseradish
      Juice from one lemon
      Three dashes Worchestire sauce

      Serve with saltine crackers.

      To me, it doesn't get any better and that is taking it back to basics.

      1 Reply
      1. re: BlueHerons

        Blueherons -

        You're taking me back to my youth. I was born & raised in SC & have fond memories of oyster roasts in Beaufort. I was back in SC a few years ago with my wife, who'd never been. We were in Murrells Inlet about 4:30 in the afternoon & decided to stop for a late lunch/early dinner. The place we stopped was right on the creek, & they had oyster beds just outside. They had an early bird special - buy one entree & get a lesser priced entree for half price. She ordered the crab cakes (the most expensive entree) & I got a "single" oyster roast. my single turned out to be a little over 4 dozen of the tasty, briny little oysters. At 1/2 price my meal came to $7.98. What a deal & what a meal!!

      2. I like sweeter oysters all on their lonesome, but I find that a little bit of cocktail sauce does wonders with very salty ones.

        1. I don't like all the sauces either, just oyster with maybe a squirt of lemon. The salty briny flavor is just awesome. I would love to become an oyster connessiour and taste them from all over. We went to a great place in NY City's train station that must have had over 50 different varieties. I was in heaven - I think I love the northeastern ones better then say florida or new orleans.

          2 Replies
          1. re: lexpatti

            You're talking about the Grand Central Oyster Bar which has been around "forever". It is expensive, but has the best, most extensive list of oysters anywhere. It also has both New England and Manhattan clam chowder. Without getting into an argument from New Englanders (I'm living in Boston this year), they are different concoctions and are both delicious. If you haven't done it, try eating at the rounded "bar" area. You can watch some of the food preparation which is always enjoyable.

            1. re: rockpile

              Yes, that's it - we loved it. I also had a special herring that is only served during a short few weeks period - it was awesome. Yes, I think Manhattan clam chowder is with a red base, correct? Similar to Bermuda chowder.

          2. Hey, I first started eating oysters (in my 30's) as a vehicle for horseradish. I don't think it overpowers the oyster flavor, it's very complementary.

            1. As the newly dubbed Oyster King, I take mine with a bit of lemon -- one wedge to a half dozen. I really enjoy the different flavors of the oysters. Once in a while i'll put on a tiny dab of tabasco, but 90% of the time it's just lemon.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JonParker

                My wife's family were having lunch at an oyster establishment in Brittany, and Papa asked for lemon. The waiter replied, very coldly, "Monsieur, this is not a fruit stand!"

                I like'em any way I can get'em, and whether I take them buck naked or with ketchup and horseradish depends on both my mood of the moment and the nature of the oysters. Big Gulf oysters at the Acme in NOLA call for saucing; delicate little Malpeques are I think best on their own.

              2. Straight up, naked ...no sauce...but with a beer chaser

                Local Baltimore joint has an oyster shooter..Pabst Blue Ribbon and an oyster in a shot glass...called the "Slurp and BurP"

                1 Reply
                1. re: Hue

                  love oyster shooters, can't remember when or where I them first.

                2. Geez, what's wrong with variety? I don't douse my bivalves with a tablespoon of sauce, but a dash of hot sauce, or mignonette, or cocktail sauce, or a splash of lemon - I like to change it up from oyster to oyster. And of course, some of them will be eaten without adornment.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: KevinB

                    I'm with you, kevin. I do have some preferences though. horseradish and lemon with big fat Afalatchacolas, a dash of hot sauce with Chincoteagues, mignonette with bluepoints and nothing at all with Wellfleets and north except an occasional squeeze of lemon or lime and maybe a quick grind of pepper.Oh' and either a good beer or and ice cold vodka, or maybe a nice glass of Muscadet Sevre et Maine

                    1. I agree about the sauces being unnecessary -- IMO the only way to have oysters is raw without an additional flavoring. I will take a forkfull of cocktail sauce with horseradish between oysters as a palate cleanser, however, maybe it reminds me of the ginger with sushi.

                      1. oysters and vodka gimlets (up) were made for each other. no other "sauce" required.

                        1. I like to eat the oyster and drink the oyster liquor unaccompanied. I'll dip my fork in the mignonette and taste it as a palate cleanser.

                          1. I like lemon and horseradish with my oysters. Occasionally, I'll put a dab of siracha on them.

                            1. I think it's highly dependent upon whether or not you truly *love* the taste of oysters... Many people have just become accustom to the combination, just as many have become accustom to the taste of a remoulade with their crab cake.

                              A good mignonette is just one of those things that tastes "right" with an oyster to most people, but obviously you don't have to overdo it. Subtlety is key on a lot of things, and I'd say this definitely falls under that category.

                              My Blog: http://www.epicureforum.com

                              1. "Any insight into how these sauces became standard issue with oysters?"

                                Who really knows where certain eating habits got started. Oysters have been a food source since the Neolithic period and were cultivated long before the Christain era. The Greeks served them with wine, probably drunk from a glass not as a condiment. As far as a timeline for popular condiments, again who really knows. Somewhere along the line someone decided to add a little something to oysters, and it just caught on.