IT’S NOT TOO LATE FOR A DAY AT THE BEACH FIONA SMITH’S WITH SHELLFISH DISHES
Fiona Smith makes the most of fresh shellfish
TUATUA FRITTERS WITH SEAWEED MAYONNAISE recipe page 66
IT’S COLLOQUIALLY KNOWN as the pipi shuffle – New Zealanders knee-deep in water, wiggling their bodies, digging their feet into the sand to find patches of shallow buried shellfish. I personally prefer the technique of just getting down into the sand and digging around with my hands, getting pummelled by waves. After you have collected what you need, head out to deep water and fill a bucket with water (it’s less sandy out there) and keep your harvest in a cool place overnight (at least 8 hours) so it spits out any sand. Before cooking, drain, rinse with fresh water and scrub if necessary.
In terms of cooking times, the beauty of these shellfish is that they pop open when cooked. It is best to remove them as this happens so they don’t over cook, as they can get rubbery when cooked for too long.
You can buy cockles (NZ little neck clams) and other shellfish from specialty fish or food stores. Cloudy Bay Clams do an excellent range of fresh and blanched clams and tuatua. If you are using the blanched shellfish, they only need to be heated through as they are already cooked, so adjust cooking times accordingly. When you open them, save the liquid in the bag to use in the recipe as you would the steaming juices. The blanched shellfish can be shucked straight out of the packet as they will open slightly and are easy to get a small knife into.
Although I have given a specified shellfish for each dish, in all these recipes, the shellfish are interchangeable.