Scampi or Dublin Bay prawns in Venice.                                                                     Photo: Jonathan Slack  www.slack.co.uk

 

SHELLFISH AND CRUSTACEANS

 

 

We'll sport and be free with Moll, Betty and Dolly,

Have oysters and lobsters to cure melancholy.

Fish-dinners will make a man spring like a flea.

      Dame Venus, Love's lady,

      Was born of the sea.

With her and with Bacchus we'll tickle the sense,

For we shall be past it a hundred years hence.

Thomas Jordan c.1612-1685

 

Prawns

 

  • Prawn and samphire salad
  • Spinach and prawn curry

See also TAGLIOLINI WITH COURGETTES AND PRAWNS on the Pasta and Noodles page and SPANISH RICE WITH PRAWNS on the rice page.    

 

 

Crab

 

  • Devilled crab

See also Spaghetti or linguini with crab on the Pasta and Noodles page.

 

Mussels

  • Mouclade (mussel soup)

See also Tagliatelle with mussels on the Pasta and noodles page.

 

 

Squid

 

  • Squid stew with rice
  • Squid, chorizo and chickpea
  • Squid stuffed with ricotta
  • Calamari con piselli

See also Spaghetti with squid on the Pasta and noodles page.

 

Clams

  • Clams and beans

 

PRAWNS

 

Photo: Jonathan Slack   www.slack.co.uk

 

These are good recipes for deep-frozen North Sea prawns (although they can also be made with raw fresh prawns). It is important to buy prawns that have not been shelled, as once they have been unfrozen and shelled, they quickly lose their taste. The shelled prawns in supermarkets have often been caught in one country and shelled in another before coming to Britain. It is also important not to let previously cooked prawns cook any more or they become tough; they should just be warmed through.

 

PRAWN AND SAMPHIRE SALAD  (for 2)

¾ lb/300-400gr cooked prawns in the shell

3/4lb/300-400gr new or waxy potatoes (eg Charlotte)

6 oz/150-200gr samphire

2 tablespoons good olive oil

juice of half a lemon

1 small clove garlic, peeled and very finely chopped or pushed through a garlic-squeezer

salt, pepper

Shell the prawns. Cook and peel the potatoes and cut into small chunks. Wash and pick over the samphire to remove tough stalks and any bad bits. Cook samphire for 5 minutes in boiling unsalted water and drain. Mix together the prawns, potatoes, samphire and garlic, and dress with oil, lemon juice and pepper, and if necessary a little salt.

 

SPINACH AND PRAWN CURRY  (for 4)

1-2 onions, peeled and chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 ½ lb/700gr cooked prawns in the shell

500gr spinach, cooked and chopped

1 teaspoon tomato puree

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon ground coriander seeds

8 grains fenugreek

2 green chillis, deseeded and chopped

sunflower or peanut oil, salt

Shell the prawns. Cook the onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil until soft but not coloured. Stir in the spices, tomato puree and 1 tablespoon water, and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the spinach, prawns and salt, heat through and serve.

 

"Lady Jingly! Lady Jingly!

   Sitting where the pumpkins blow,

      Will you come and be my wife?"

   Said the Yongby-Bonghy-Bo.

"I am tired of living singly--

On this coast so wild and shingly--

      I'm a-weary of my life;

      If you'll come and be my wife,

      Quite serene would be my life!"

   Said the Yonghy-Bongby-Bo,

   Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

 

"On this Coast of Coromandel

   Shrimps and watercresses grow,

      Prawns are plentiful and cheap,"

Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

"You shall have my chairs and candle,

And my jug without a handle!

      Gaze upon the rolling deep

      (Fish is plentiful and cheap);

      As the sea, my love is deep!"

   Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,

   Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

(Edward Lear)

 

 

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MUSSELS

 

MOUCLADE (MUSSEL SOUP) (for 2)

 

This is loosely based on a mussel dish served in various forms along the west coast of France. The addition of leeks and potatoes is not authentic but makes it into a substantial soup that can be served as a light meal with some salad.

 

500gr mussels, debearded and cleaned

Glass of white wine

1-2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

200-250gr new or waxy potatoes

2 leeks

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 pinch saffron (or ½ teaspoon turmeric for a poor man’s version)

200ml fish stock (or water)

1-2 tablespoons cream.

Salt, pepper, chopped parsley

 

Peel and boil the potatoes and drain when cooked. While they are cooking, put the wine in a big saucepan with the garlic and bring to the boil. Add the mussels and cook covered on a high heat until the mussels have opened (a couple of minutes). Strain off the liquid and reserve. When the mussels are cool enough, remove from their shells and reserve them too. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the white part of the leeks, cut into thin rounds, and the saffron or turmeric. Cook gently until the leeks are soft but not coloured. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Gradually stir in the mussel cooking liquid (leaving behind any grit that has collected at the bottom) and the fish stock to make a thinnish soup. Dice the cooked potatoes and add to the soup along with the shelled mussels, salt and pepper to taste and chopped parsley. Heat through (but do not cook once the mussels have been added or they will go hard), stir in the cream and serve.

                                                           

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CRAB

 

             Photo: Jonathan Slack   www.slack.co.uk

 

It is best to buy cooked crab unless it can be purchased raw direct from the fisherman. The moribund raw crab that one buys in towns has usually been hanging around for a couple of days and its flesh has become stressed and thin, whereas there is a good chance that cooked crab was cooked fairly soon after emerging from the sea. Choose crabs that are heavy in relation to their size.

Even after it has been cooked, the flesh loses its flavour fairly quickly, so it is best to buy crab in the shell and remove the flesh at home. But this is a tedious business and dressed crab can be used instead.

 

DEVILLED CRAB  (for 2-4)

1 crab weighing 1 ½ -2 lb/700gr-1 kg

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 small red or green pepper, deseeded and diced

1 tablespoon butter

1½ tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon concentrated tomato puree

1 dessertspoon French mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

½ pint/300ml milk (approx)

2-3 hard-boiled eggs (optional – depends on size of crab/number pf people)

salt, pepper

Extract the flesh from the crab. Cook the onion and pepper in the butter until soft but not coloured. Stir in the flour and tomato puree. Gradually stir in the milk to make a thickish sauce. Add mustard, Worcestershire sauce, crabmeat, chopped hard-boiled eggs and salt and pepper to taste. Heat through and serve.

 

                          Vincent van Gogh 1889

 

 

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SQUID

Squid need either to be cooked either very quickly (a few minutes) or stewed for at least 40 minutes. Anything in between is likely to be tough.

 

3rd century AD Roman mosaic in Tunisia

 

SQUID STEW WITH RICE  (for 2)

This is based on a recipe from Alan Davidson’s North American Seafood, which he describes as being from Portugal via Cape Cod.

300-400gr squid

1 onion, peeled and sliced

1 dessertspoon tomato purée

2-3 tablespoons dry sherry

Worcester sauce

3-4 fluid ounces basmati rice

Saffron, allspice, salt, pepper, cooking oil.

Clean the squid and cut into bite-sized pieces. Cook the onion a little oil with salt, pepper and a large pinch of allspice. When the onion is soft, add the squid and cook for a couple of minutes until it is opaque. Add the tomato puree, sherry, a good pinch of saffron and a good dash of Worcestershire sauce, together with enough water to cover the squid. Simmer very gently, covered, until the squid is tender (about 40-50 minutes), adding more water if it becomes dry. Add the basmati rice and cook until done (about 15 minutes), again adding water if it looks too dry – it should be not quite sloppy.

 

Pots to catch squid in Tunisia 2013

 

SQUID, CHORIZO AND CHICKPEA (for 4)

500-800gr squid

2 onions, peeled and sliced

4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

100-200gr cooking chorizo, preferable picante, sliced

600-800ml chicken or fish stock (stock cube will do)

1 glass red wine

800gr cooked chickpeas, drained (tins will do)

200-400gr green beans, topped and tailed

olive oil, salt, pepper, green coriander

Melt the onions in a little olive oil. Add the chorizo and the garlic and cook a few minutes more until the red fat starts to leach out from the chorizo. Clean the squid and cut up into rings/bite size pieces. Add to the onion mixture and cook briefly, until squid has turned white. Add the wine and enough stock to cover. Simmer, covered for about 40 minutes or until squid is tender. (It can be done in advance to this stage.) Cut the green beans into 1inch/2 cm lengths and cook in boiling salted water until done. Drain, and add to the stew, together with the chickpeas. Add salt and pepper to taste. Reheat, sprinkle over some chopped green coriander and serve. 

 

SQUID STUFFED WITH RICOTTA  (for 6)

This dish must be made with small squid, more easily available on the continent than in Britain.

6 portion-sized squid

200gr ricotta

1 egg yolk

1 large slice white bread, crust removed and reduced to bread-crumbs

1 tablespoon each chopped chives and parsley

1 onion, peeled and chopped

400-500gr peeled Italian plum tomatoes, roughly chopped (tinned are fine)

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely

1 glass white wine

salt, pepper, olive oil

Soften the onion and garlic in some olive oil. Add the tomato, wine, salt and pepper and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, clean the squid. Chop the tentacles and wings and fry them briefly in some olive oil. Mix them together with the ricotta, breadcrumbs, egg yolk, herbs, salt and pepper. Stuff the squid bodies with this mixture, and arrange in an oven-proof dish in which they fit snugly in one layer. Pour the tomato sauce on top. Cover with a lid or foil and bake in an oven pre-heated to gas mark 5/ 190º C) for 30 minutes.

 

Giant squid in a fish market near Muscat 2016

 

 

CALAMARI CON PISELLI (for 4)

A good and easy Italian way of cooking squid.

 

600gr squid, preferably not too big

1 onion, peeled and sliced

1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

½ glass white wine

400-500gr (one tin) peeled plum tomatoes

300gr petits pois (frozen is fine)

Olive oil, chopped parsley, salt, pepper

 

Clean the squid and slice the body into thinnish rings and the tentacles into pieces. Soften the onion and garlic in some olive oil without letting them colour. Add the squid and continue cooking for a couple of minutes until the squid has turned opaque. Add the wine and let it bubble up and reduce. Add the tomatoes and peas, salt and pepper. Simmer, covered, gently for 40-50 minutes until the squid is tender. Sprinkle chopped parsley on top.

 

 

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CLAMS

 

CLAMS AND BEANS (for 2)

 

500gr clams

1 good glass white wine

50-100gr green beans, topped and tailed and cut into 2 cm lengths

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

400gr tin cannelini beans, drained (or equivalent freshly cooked)

Big pinch chilli flakes

2 tablespoons cream

Olive oil, chopped parsley, salt, pepper

 

Wash the clams well in cold water and pick through them, discarding any that don’t close or have broken shells. Pour the wine into a big saucepan and put on a high heat. When it starts to bubble, add the clams, cover and cook until the shells are open (a minute or two). Drain the clams through a colander or sieve, reserving the liquid. When they have cooled a little, remove them from their shells and put to one side. Cook the green beans in salted boiling water until they are soft (they should not be too al dente). Drain and reserve. Soften the onion with the chilli flakes in some olive oil and add the chopped garlic, cooking gently for another couple of minutes. Add the cannelini beans, cream, salt and pepper, and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Then stir in the green beans, clams, clam liquor and parsley, warming them through and serve. The dish should be slightly sloppy, and can be served as a soup if preferred.

 

 

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SCALLOPS

 

                                Scallops at the fish market in Venice. Photos: Jonathan Slack  www.slack.co.uk