Seafood is superb in summer but it’s equally rewarding in cooler weather. In fact, many seafood varieties are actually at their best in the colder waters that winter brings.
Molluscs, in particular, really shine when the temperature drops and these include shellfish such as oysters, scallops, mussels and clams.
These tasty treasures are called bivalve molluscs which means they have a soft body enclosed in a double-hinged shell.
Pasadena seafood manager Steve Hatzimitsos says the fish departments at Frewville and Pasadena have an array of Australian molluscs for home cooking this winter.
“We’re always on the lookout for fresh seafood products that we can give our customers, something different like periwinkles (sea snails) and sea urchins which are both molluscs,” Steve says.
“Our team is happy to help people who have any questions, it’s all about education, and we’re happy to offer cooking tips and tricks”.
Explore these marvelous molluscs at Frewville and Pasadena.
Pipis, Vongole, Razor Clams
Vongole have a mild flavour and moist, firm flesh. Pipis have a slightly stronger, richer flavour and can turn a little chewy when cooked. They can be substituted easily for one another. The shells yield an average 20 to 30 per cent meat so allow 600g of whole shells per person as a main course.
Cockles, pipis and any clams go well with chilli, coriander, garlic, parsley, tomato and white wine. Pipis can work well with stronger flavours such as anchovies, Chinese black beans, ginger and soy sauce.
They can be steamed, poached, stir fried, grilled baked, barbecued (in the shell), smoked and pickled or eaten raw as sashimi. Their firm flesh holds its form so they are good in curries and soups.
Remember that they need very little cooking and are ready virtually as soon as the shell opens.
Razor clams, also sometimes referred to as razor fish, have either a long narrow shell, (like an old-fashioned cutthroat razor), or a long wedge-shaped shell (like an elongated fan).
Frewville and Pasadena stock 8 to 10 different types of oysters sourced from Coffin Bay, Cowell, Streaky Bay, Smoky Bay, Stansbury, Sydney and Tasmania.
Oysters, for many, are best enjoyed freshly shucked with a squeeze of lemon but they have many culinary uses. They can be steamed with garlic and green onions, poached in soups, deep-fried in light batter, pan-fried into an oyster omelette, baked in their shells or in pies, grilled with toppings such as Kilpatrick, mornay or Rockefeller, barbecued, smoked, and pickled.
This bivalve mollusc is one of the easiest to prepare. Mussels have a rich, strong flavour, high oiliness and moist, juicy, medium-textured flesh.
Mussels work well with flavours such as bacon, breadcrumbs, butter, celery, chilli, citrus, fennel, garlic, herbs (coriander, dill, lovage, parsley, French tarragon), mayonnaise, olive oil, onion, pepper, Pernod, potatoes, saffron, tomato and white wine.
They lend themselves to a wide range of cooking styles, including steaming, poaching, deep-frying, stir-frying, baking, grilling, barbecuing (in the shell), smoking and pickling and shine in omelettes, soups, pasta, paella and salads.
Try a winter warmer of mussels au gratin – cover open mussels with herb and garlic butter and breadcrumbs and grill until bubbling.
Scallops have a rich flavour, low oiliness and moist, medium-firm flesh and can be steamed, poached, deep-fried, pan-fried, stir-fried, baked, grilled, barbecued, or eaten raw (if sashimi grade), but always require minimal cooking, even less than most other seafood.
It’s always better to undercook, rather than overcook them, leaving the centre still translucent, as they will continue to cook in the residual heat once they are removed from the pan.
Perfectly cooked, they are sweet and succulent with a gentle firmness, overcooked they are shrunken, tough and tasteless. Sear them over a high heat for just a few seconds on a BBQ or in a hot frying pan and serve with earthy flavours such as cauliflower puree. Steam scallops on the half shell with ginger, green onions and a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil.