Recipes by John vargo & Jake lyons


quick oysters rockefeller


2 dozen fresh Gulf oysters

6 Tblsp. butter – softened

1 Tblsp. finely minced garlic

6 Tblsp. finely-minced fresh fennel

6 Tblsp. each of finely minced tarragon and chervil

3 Tblsp. finely-minced onion

3 Tblsp. finely-minced parsley

1 cup panko

Tabasco sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

Rock Salt

Lemon wedges for garnish

In a medium skillet on medium heat, add the butter, minced onion, fennel and garlic. Cook until vegetables are soft. Place the panko, tarragon, chervil, and parsley in a food processor and add the vegetable- butter mixture. Puree together in food processor until smooth. Shuck the oysters over a bowl, and reserve the liquid that comes out. Place the half shell oysters in a roasting pan that is 1/3 filled with rock salt. The salt will help keep them level, and will impart a brininess to the shell. Add the oyster liquid and a few drops of Tabasco sauce to the mixture in the food processor, and mix until emulsified. Put a generous quantity of filling over each oyster using a piping bag or spoon. Be sure to cover oyster to edges. Place the roasting pan under a broiler and roast until golden brown. Serve immediately with a garnish of lemon wedge.


teriyaki glazed skate ribs

(serves 4)

4 whole bone in skate wings (about 2 pounds)

1 cup Tamari soy sauce

2 Tbsp. minced ginger

1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic

1-20oz. Can Dole crushed pineapple in juice

¼ cup brown sugar

chopped fresh scallions

Have your fishmonger clean and trim the skate wings and leave in the center “bone”. Cut them into 1” wide pieces that resemble pork spare ribs. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Place the skate ribs into the mixture and let marinade for two hours in the refrigerator. Pre heat your gas or charcoal grill. Place the ribs on the hot grill and cook for about 2 minutes on each side, turning only once. Meanwhile, place the remaining sauce in a saucepan and bring to a rapid boil, then turn off. Place the cooked “ribs” in a large bowl and pour the hot sauce over them and toss to coat. Place on a serving platter, and pour over the remaining sauce from the bowl. Serve with cornbread and perhaps a side bowl of basmati rice. Sprinkle with chopped scallions. 


Key lime gulf shrimp

(serves 4)

1# U-15 Gulf shrimp

½ # butter

2 Tblsp minced fresh garlic

½ cup Key lime juice

1 cup chopped cilantro

1 ripe mango – chopped fine

1 can coconut milk

2 Tblsp. Yellow mustard

1 fresh habanero pepper -(optional)

With kitchen shears, cut the back of the shrimp shell and de-vein the shrimp, leaving the shell on. In a bowl, mix the garlic, key lime juice, chopped mango, mustard, coconut milk and habanero. Place the shrimp in this mixture for 1 hour. Place the butter in a large skillet and place on stove at medium-high heat. When the butter starts to brown, drop the shrimp in one at a time until all are used. Turn them once after about 30 seconds. Cook for another 30 seconds on the other side, pour in the remaining sauce from the bowl, and bring to a quick simmer. Pour out of the pan on to a platter of cooked rice. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.

Note: The  shrimp must be peeled while eating, but the flavor and sweet juiciness of the shrimp are worth the extra effort! 


Icelandic Cod with tomato, olives and caper:


This is a quick and easy sauce that can dress just about any protein but works very well with fish and especially well with richer winter fish.  The salty briney characteristics of the olives and capers play against those complimenting flavors in the fish and the acidity of the tomato cuts the Cod’s richness.


4 pieces of cod 4-6 oz each seasoned with salt and pepper

2 cups crushed tomato

2 cloves minced garlic

¼ cup pitted olives

¼ cup drained capers

1 small sprig rosemary

3 sprigs thyme

4 tablespoons olive oil


panko bread crumbs

fresh parsley




Since fresh tomatoes are now out of season your best option is to buy a can of quality whole peeled tomatoes and crush what you need by hand.  This is a rustic dish so things don’t need to be perfectly uniform.



Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a baking dish and arrange filets so that they are not touching each other.  If you would like to add some panko to the top of the fish for texture go ahead.  Bake until cooked through.  Approx 10-12 minutes


Place two tablespoons of olive oil in a saute pan and add garlic.  When it becomes aromatic add tomatoes, rosemary, and thyme and cook until liquid has begun to reduce.  


Add capers and olives and continue to cook until sauce has become combined.  If it has become too thick add small amounts of warm water until desired consistency is reached.  Discard rosemary and thyme sprigs and season with salt and pepper.


Spread sauce on serving platter and place cooked fish on top to serve.  You can add some chopped parsley for a bit of freshness and color and lemon juice for a bit of brightness. 


flounder with sage and brown butter:

Brown butter, or Beurre noisette is one the great simple French sauces.  When  done properly it offers an incredible aroma of hazelnut and adds a surprising amount of depth to very delicate proteins and vegetables.  It is one of the things I most love about cooking; the idea of treating a simple product carefully and correctly to extract much more than meets the eye.


As unsalted butter melts, the milk solids separate from the butterfat.  The heavier milk solids sink and caramelize under low steady heat.  It is very important to keep a close eye on your heat and the butter in the pan.  It will go from delicious to burnt in a very short time.


2 flounder filets seasoned with salt and pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

4 sage leaves

juice of half a lemon

½ cup wondra flour


Pat each fillet dry with a paper towel then gently dredge in wondra.  Place fillets in a preheated saute pan with the olive oil on medium heat.  Cook approx 2 minutes or until the fillets have a nice crust and then gently flip over.  Cook for approx 2 more minutes or until done.  Move to a warm serving plate.

Add butter to medium saute pan over low heat and allow to melt.  When you begin to see the milk solids turn brown and you can begin to smell a hazelnut aroma coming from the pan (approx 2-3 minutes) add Sage leaves and remove from heat.  Add lemon juice and whisk to combine.  Pour over flounder.


classic mignonette:

Mignonette is the traditional French condiment for oysters.  You could argue that oysters are a perfect food on their own.  You wouldn’t be wrong but a good mignonette makes everything better.  It offers acidity to cut the natural richness of the oysters as well as a bit of texture.  In its classic form mignonette is no more or less than vinegar, shallot and black pepper.  Acid, allium, heat; you can be as creative as you want within those confines.  I have made no less than 700 varieties of this condiment in my life but this is my take on the classic.


¼ cup champagne vinegar

1 Tablespoon finely minced shallot

1 Tablespoon coarse cracked black pepper



An easy way to begin experimenting with this condiment is to try different vinegars.  White wine, red wine, rice, etc.


Really take the time to produce beautifully minced shallots of uniform size.  You owe it to the oyster.