SHELL SHUCKED

IT’S NOT TOO LATE FOR A DAY AT THE BEACH FIONA SMITH’S WITH SHELL­FISH DISHES

Cuisine - - CONTENTS - Recipes & food styling Fiona Smith Pho­tog­ra­phy Aaron Mclean Styling Ellen J Hem­mings

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.

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