Despite living in a really great neighbourhood, I often find myself driving questionably long distances to source great produce, especially seafood. It feels like I live in a bit of a produce black-hole. There just wasn’t anything in my local area that really floated my boat with respect to good quality seafood. So when a new local small business opened its doors, I was grateful to have access to both fresh and frozen seafood.
I have never thought of seafood as an everyday food, its relatively expensive to traditional proteins; a treat, not a staple. I also like to know where it’s from (just as I would my steak, pork chop or chicken breast), so it’s nice to shop with the knowledge that the boys at Fins Seafood (my new seafood local) source and supply the majority of the produce available in store, even supplying their produce to other local seafood stores. So, because the boys source the majority of their produce, they understand the product intimately and take great pride in making it available to customers. It’s also refreshing to speak directly with the supplier, it generates greater confidence as a customer about exactly what you are buying – and that’s important.
Whether it’s your local butcher or the fish store around the corner, you should be able to ask any question about where your produce comes from, what makes it great and how to cook it – and get an answer. I appreciate, and always return to, stores whose owners and staff are knowledgeable about their produce and care about what they do (and trust me, you can always separate those who do from those who don’t).
I bought a kilo of pipis (a small, edible saltwater clam, endemic to Australia) from Fins, which had been air freighted the previous day from South Australia’s Goolwa Pipico. So I knocked together one of my favourite pasta dishes for a lazy Saturday night dinner. This recipe is deceptively easy to make, requires only a handful of ingredients and takes about as long as it takes to boil a pot of water.
1kg pipis (or clams)
1 – 2 red chillies, finely sliced (seeds in if you like it hot)
½ brown onion, finely diced
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 punnet grape tomatoes
Small handful Italian flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 cup white wine
500gms good quality pasta
- Bring a non-stick fry pan to a high temperature, pour in 2Tbs of olive oil and toss grape tomatoes until blistered and skins start to burst, this should take roughly 2 minutes. Remove from the pan until serving
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.
- While water is coming to the boil, in a separate pot heat 2Tbs olive oil and gently fry off onion, garlic and chilli for 2 – 3 minutes, then carefully add pipis to the pot and pour over white wine, put the lid on and shake gently, cooking for 3 – 4 minutes
- Remove pipis (once opened) to a bowl and remove three quarters from their shells, then return to your pot and keep on a very low temperature
- Once water is boiling in your other pot, cook pasta according to packet instructions (ideally you should cook pasta and pipis concurrently to avoid over-cooking the pipis)
- Drain pasta (but reserve half a cup of the pasta water). Transfer pasta immediately to the pot with the pipis, squeeze in the juice of one lemon, add the parsley and stir through gently. Test for seasoning. If the pasta needs a little more liquid, stir through some of your reserved pasta water
- Serve pasta in large bowls, topping with a few grape tomatoes, an extra wedge of lemon and drizzle with good quality olive oil