National Geographic Traveller (UK) - Food
| RECIPE JOURNAL Shellfish dishes
FROM SEAFOOD LINGUINE TO SPICY MUSSELS WITH FETA, THESE FOUR REFRESHING SHELLFISH DISHES WILL HELP YOU WELCOME IN THE SPRING SUNSHINE. WORDS: CHRISTIE DIETZ
The term ‘shellfish’ is generally used to refer to edible crustaceans and molluscs, covering everything from oysters and winkles to prawns and langoustines. Though cleaning the shells and removing the meat can take a bit of work, cooking shellfish tends to be a quick and easy affair. Its a food that’s been eaten across the globe, particularly in coastal areas, for hundreds of thousands of years.
Shellfish dishes don’t come much fresher than amaebi (spot prawn) sashimi in Japan, or more comforting than Belgium’s steaming bowls of mussels in white wine (ideally with a healthy portion of frites). Head to Singapore for crab stir-fried in a sweet yet savoury chilli sauce, or try it dressed in its shell and accompanied by new potatoes and a dollop of mayonnaise on England’s Norfolk coast. Meanwhile, in the US state of Maine
— the country’s seafood capital — you can get gloriously messy with a whole steamed lobster and a pot of sweet, melted butter.
Of course, shellfish isn’t always the main event: it’s also dried and used to impart a deeply savoury umami flavour. Dried scallops are fried with chillies and seasonings to make Cantonese XO sauce, for instance, and ground dried shrimp is incorporated into spicy condiments such as shito in Ghana and balachaung in Myanmar.
The following recipes, inspired by flavours from the
US, Greece, Italy and Asia, all use fresh shellfish. When preparing live clams, mussels or oysters, make sure the shells are either firmly shut or immediately close when tapped; once dead, they quickly decompose and, even after a short time, might not be safe to eat. Most shellfish are seasonal, although cultivated mussels and oysters are available year-round. If you know a good fishmonger, ask for recommendations on what’s available and sustainable.