Sunday, January 4, 2009

A simple Shellfish Broth

Sunday 10.21am

After a day at the beach I arrived home with something completely new to me - a bag of shellfish. They were Tuatua, a type of small clam and it seems that collecting them is a bit of a tradition amongst kiwis, both Maori and Pakeha. But how to cook them? I have never cooked shellfish before and I suspected that my scottish upbringing was not going to help here - you cannot really batter and deep fry something with a hard shell on. but I do have vague memories from holidays in France of people eating huge bowls of mussels - moules mariniere. Turns out this is just shellfish steamed in white wine and various other things depending on the recipe you read. I took mine (more or less) from the Conran cookbook . This is my fall back book - the one that has everything in it, a sort of modern version of the Good Housekeeping book that everybodies mother has tucked away somewhere.

Anyway, being a soup fan I doubled the quantities to make a sort of broth with an onion base, wine as the liquid or stock and the Tuatua as my main ingredient. I kept it simple without cream or butter.

- Put 500ml of half white wine (I had half a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in the fridge), half water on to boil.
- Peel and chop two or three onions and add to the boiling wine. (the proper recipe uses shallots and onions)
- leave to boil away for eight minutes or so whilst scrubbing the shellfish clean under running water.

Obviously you have to be careful with collecting and storing shellfish, so as I am a complete novice you are on your own here - I googled it and made the mistake of telling Nicola and now a day later she is still watching me for signs of paralytic shellfish poisoning! (I feel fine by the way, thanks for asking)

- Bring the heat up, pour the shells into the boiling wine, pop the lid on and leave to cook stirring them around occasionally.
- They are cooked once most of the shells open up, less than 5 minutes probably. Some shells will not open - don't eat these ones.
- Pour everything through a sieve into a bowl or another pan to seperate the shellfish, put them in a serving bowl. Then carefully pour the broth back into the original pan keeping back the sand you'll see in the bottom.
- Bring the liquid back to the boil and check for seasoning, not that it will need any salt.
- Pour the liquid over the shellfish along with a couple of handfulls of chopped parsley. Our parsley has just flowered and so does not have many leaves so I used coriander leaves as well.

Serve with bread or a bowl of french fries.

I must say the broth was certainly the best part - like lemony sea water, the Tuatua were nice but still full of sand so if you know how to get round this please let me know. I'll ask at work on Monday but I do suspect that the sand is all part of the "fun" like eating a sandwich on the beach!

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Jodi said...

This looks delicious!

Clams (along with mussels, oysters, and the like) are one of those things I never make at home, even though they need only the simplest treatment to be delectable. I'll have to add this soup to my clam to-make list, which includes a nice linguine vongole I remember seeing Good Food host Evan Kleinman make in an instructional video somewhere out there on the interweb.

Anonymous said...

I.m from Tauranga. To get around the issue with the sand in the tuatua you need to leave them in SEA WATER, not fresh water for about 12 hours so that the tuatua have a chance to spit out the sand that is inside them. Then there will be no sand and the tuatua meat is wonderful!

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