There's A Right Way To Cut Shallots For Mignonette Sauce

The building blocks for a good mignonette sauce include vinegar, peppercorns, and shallots. With so few components, it's essential that each ingredient is of the utmost quality. Vinegar should be vibrant and crisp, but not mouth-puckeringly acidic. Peppercorns should be fresh and cracked on the spot for maximum intensity. Lastly, shallots should be firm and juicy, and most importantly, cut correctly. Although personal preference may spark some variation, most recipes for mignonette will call for finely diced shallots. 

Naturally, there is a very good reason as to why this tends to be the norm. Mignonette should enhance the flavor of a raw oyster, rather than detract from it, which means that a balanced recipe is vital. Consequently, by chopping shallots too large, there's a risk that the allium's punchiness will overpower the seafood's most delicate nuances. In contrast, mincing the shallots too small, virtually eliminates any texture that a perfectly cut shallot would provide. A fine dice is, therefore, the best compromise.

A finer dice makes for a finer mignonette

To achieve a fine dice, the slicing sweet spot lies somewhere between a mince and a dice. If you're wondering exactly what that looks like, let us give you the play-by-play. After slicing a shallot lengthwise, make roughly three horizontal slices down the allium, before making about five vertical slices across. When done correctly, you should be left with teeny tiny cubes of zesty shallot that are neither huge nor miniscule.

Despite that finely diced shallots are the only ingredient you need to worry about cutting up when making a classic mignonette, some recipes might require you to pick up the knife once more. Whether you spice up the mignonette with bold jalapeños, sweeten it with candied orange zest, or simply add another layer of fresh flavor with radishes, it's important to keep sizing fairly similar in order to keep every bite just as harmonious as the next.

Lastly, since we're on the topic of balance, we'd like to share one last piece of advice. Delicious as a well-made mignonette may be, remember that a little goes a long way. Drizzle the condiment on oysters sparingly so as to experience flavors and texture to their fullest.