Hot weather cooking: easy shellfish salad

June 25, 2009

shellfish salad

It’s so awful, but for me, good food is sometimes a burden. For instance, the other day we needed clams and mussels in a bowl for a photo shoot. They were to serve no other purpose than to be themselves for 5 minutes.

At the end of the day they were up for grabs on our food trolley (we basically do a little grocery shop on our way to our cars each day, taking the food that was made between 9 and 5 home for ourselves or others). No one, including me, wanted the seafood. I’d eaten enough during the day and really, I just couldn’t see myself cooking them up into a chowder. But I felt guilty about wasting these creatures for the sake of a 5-minute TV segment so I took them home, steamed them and shucked the meats from the shells and made this little salad. Then, I packed it into a plastic container and put it in the fridge.

Sabrina and I ate it the next day for lunch and you know what? My efforts were well worth the pay off. And, given how hot it is here in Ontario right now. I can see myself making this salad again late one evening so that I have a cold, yummy, protein dish on reserve for dinner.

Here’s how to make one yourself:

Steam a combination of clams and mussels in a large pot of salted water.
Drain cooked shellfish in a colander and refresh under cold running water
Remove meats from opened shells and discard any unopened shellfish.
Pat the shucked shellfish dry on paper towel.
Combine drained shellfish, diced red pepper and a handful of chopped parsley in a bowl.
Drizzle with lemony-dill dressing; toss and let stand for at least 15 minutes.

What are your hot weather entree favorites?


Topline Trends Tuesday: Bivalve curious

March 10, 2009

emptymusselsshells2

I bet we can all agree that this recession is a bitch, but some good comes even from such pain. As a result of these leaner times, humble foods are getting the attention they deserve. Sure, we all still love Alaska king crab, truffles and foie gras, but we’re also rediscovering less prestigious foods and remembering how fantastic they taste, too.

Case in point: mussels and clams. Not only were these bivalves featured on a recent cover of Waitrose Food Illustrated, they’ve also been front and centre in other publications such as New York Magazine, Nation’s Restaurant News and the Times Online. And out there in real life, I had a very tasty dish of mussels with gnocchi at Butter in New York City last week.

This trend isn’t just for those who don’t want to splurge on the good stuff. No, even gourmets are jonesing for bivalves these days. A couple of weeks ago, I attended Smokerfest ’09, a party held in Pangaea Restaurant sous chef Shaun Edmonstone’s backyard and that dish of shells pictured above is proof that even spoiled chefs are glad to see these sea dwellers enjoying renewed popularity!

Do you enjoy mussels and clams often? If so, how do you like to prepare them? I find myself making classic white wine steamed mussels often but that’s about it. Do you have any other suggestions for me?