Scared of shellfish?
Despite being a previous Food Blogger, and what I would consider to be open minded around trying new or unusual food, I'm a big fearty when it comes to shellfish.
I like regular fish. Fish with flesh. Simple, unassuming fish that doesn't look at you when served with eyes full of sadness. Fish such as filleted salmon, cod, sea bass, haddock (you get the picture). I often order fish when eating out as I rarely know what to 'do' with it to make it appetising at home.
Shellfish based challenge
So, when I agreed to embark on a shellfish based challenge presented by Scottish Shellfish, I really was treading water. They kindly sent me langoustines, oysters and mussels to experiment with (three fish I would normally avoid at home). I have to say I am impressed at how fast and simple they were to work some magic on and what natural flavour they held within themselves, you really don’t need to tamper all too much!
Cooking the langoustines
I knew langoustines didn't take long to cook, nor should they be masked by any heavy flavours or sauce but other than that I was a tad stumped. My innate reaction was to pair them with lemon and parsley, so I went with my gut and did just that (along with a clove of roasted garlic as this gave a sweet hum to the butter). After reading a couple of articles I soon established they would be cooked in around 10 minutes (fast food indeed!) and after consulting a few videos on YouTube I was confident on how to get the blighters open.
Although I did have to 'coach' myself when cooking and handling these sea-based creepy crawlies they were very much worth it and encourage everyone to give them a go!
Try some shellfish!
Sadly, many of our fish caught in Scottish waters travels overseas to be enjoyed. This is down to people like me who are afraid to branch out, don't know what to do with it or have simply never tried it before! With variety in abundance, short cooking times and many health benefits associated with lean mass and essential oils, shellfish is a great alternative for a week day main meal or a special weekend dinner date.
I urge you to try this recipe if you haven't before, or dabble in some other varieties of seafood should you be a regular visitor to your fishmonger already!
- To enjoy fresh langoustines in minutes simply place them into boiling water, cover with a lid and cook for 8 minutes.
- Whilst they are in the pot, melt butter in a separate pan, add coarsely chopped parsley, a clove of crushed pre-roasted garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
- To remove the meat from the cooked langoustines, remove the head, squeeze the sharp sides together until you hear a crack (all the way along) and finally prise apart the shell to remove a relaxed 'C shape' of succulent meat.
- This meat can then be dipped in the butter or drizzled over, either way they make a fantastic fast food starter or fancy appetiser!
This recipe and blog was written by Nicola Reid (former Food Blogger), you can reach her on Twitter.
Long-time advocates of Seafood will think of this next experiment (grilled oysters) as sacrilege but as I believe many people, like me, struggle with the notion of ‘shooting back’ raw oysters. I wanted to try another method of preparation so at least I could try them.
On the Beach
From this trial in my kitchen I couldn’t get over the amazing smell from the grill as I cooked these, if I closed my eyes I could swear I was standing beside a smoky barbeque on the beach – not sheltered inside from the rain!
Practice is required when shucking (opening) oysters and you can’t be too careful. Despite watching several YouTube videos I still managed to cut my hand – not my finest moment! I recommend using a thick or folded towel to protect the hand holding the oyster and to give more grip. Also use the flat edge of a small knife, not the cutting edge.
- Place your shucked oysters on a baking sheet or grill pan and be careful not to lose too much of their internal water and ‘juice’ in the process;
- In a dish, prepare a cheese, mayo and smoked paprika mix. I used a mix of cheddar and mozzarella but you could use any melting cheese including parmesan. The paprika gives good flavour, colour and smell with the mayo used to lightly bind them all.
- Place a teaspoon of mixture on top of each oyster and grill on a medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes until golden and bubbling.
Some people say it’s easier to shuck oysters once they have been on the grill for a while and boiled up inside. You may want to try that first, but warning, these shells get HOT even after a minute or so under the grill.
Choosing the right alcoholic beverage to go with your dish can be quite difficult if you are not much of a connoisseur. Do you find yourself standing in the wine aisle, in the supermarket, staring blankly at the bottles? Then this simple guide is for you. Whether you are holding a dinner party, cooking for your other half or you just fancy a nice meal and a great wine or beer to go with it, then just follow this guide.
Dry White Wine with Moules Marinières
Rosé with Mussel Linguine in Tomato Sauce
Rosé is best with tomato-based or porky broths. These dishes won’t clash with a white wine, but they often work better with wines that have a little bit more body and some berry fruit (source)
Champagne with Thai Mussels
Winedin.com suggests either Champagne, White Bordeaux, Varricchio or American Gewürztraminer with spicy Thai mussels
Gin with Gin & Tonic Mussels
Claire Jessiman from Foodie Quine created this lovely dish for us and we think it is only right to appreciate a wonderful Scottish Gin as an accompanying drink with this gorgeous mussel dish
Champagne with Raw Oysters
The bubbles in Champagne help accent the mineral qualities of oysters, making the whole combination taste fresh and reminiscent of the sea (source)
Oyster Stout with Creamy Crunchy Oysters
Fiona Beckett suggests an oyster stout (which doesn’t actually contain oysters) which is designed to not be bitter and is smooth and velvety, the perfect match for oysters.
If you have any suggestions for recipes or have a great drink and shellfish match, let us know by clicking here.