A GUIDE TO… SCAVENGED SEAFOOD
Last week’s guide to wild mushrooms proved to be popular, and now that spring and summer are well on the way there is plenty of opportunity to get into the countryside and scavenge fresh, delicious ingredients for dinner (we can’t wait!). It is important to stay safe whilst scavenging, however, and to know what you are doing. And so, as requested, here is a guide to our two favourite types of scavenged seafood; Mussels and Crabs.
1.Before you go fishing, crabbing or mussel collecting make sure that you have checked a tide timetable. Tide times vary, even within a few miles, so make sure the timetable applies to the correct area. Either buy one from a newsagent for the whole year, or Google ‘tide times.’ Do not go out across rocks and sand dunes at low tide, when the tide is turning and about to start coming in, as you could get stuck and have to swim back, which could be very dangerous.
2.Check that there isn’t a ban on collecting seafood in the area and that the part of the sea where you are collecting mussels and crabs is not polluted.
3. Be safe on the rocks, because they’ll be slippery from the water. Wear strong, thick soled sandals, trainers you are happy to get wet, wetsuit boots or crocs. If you are ever in bare feet scrambling across wet rocks (not a good idea), stand on barnacles as they will help you to grip to the rock. Smooth rock will be slippery.
4. If it’s a hot day apply sun cream and drink plenty of water. Try and get in the shade every now and again, if possible.
Mussels are a delicacy that can be scavenged from around the British coastline and then smoked, boiled, steamed, roasted, barbecued or fried in butter. They must be cooked alive. A simple way to check for this is that live mussels, when in the air, will shut tightly when disturbed. Open, unresponsive mussels are dead, and must be discarded. Follow these simple steps to collect and store mussels:
1. Take a cool box with you to store the mussels in. Lay a couple of handfuls of seaweed on top of the mussels as this will keep them alive until you’re ready to cook them.
2. Don’t wash them as soon as you get home – fresh water kills the mussels.
3. Store in a plastic bag with seaweed at the bottom of the fridge.
4. Wash the mussels and pull out the ‘beards’ on the side of the shell immediately before cooking.
5. There are two tests to perform to ensure you don’t cook any ‘bad’ mussels. If any of the shells are open, tap them with the handle of a knife. If the shell closes, the mussel is okay, if not discard it. AND/OR Fill a bowl with water and put the mussels into it. Any mussels that bob up and down on the surface should be discarded.
Here are some of Come Scavenge’s favourite mussel recipes:
Tagliatelle with mussels and crème fraiche: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2954/tagliatelle-with-mussels-and-crme-frache-
Mussels with coriander cream: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3797/mussels-with-coriander-cream
Crab is a popular seaside dish and can be a lot of fun to collect on your summer holiday, especially if you have young children, (or are yourself young at heart). You can eat the crabs you collect, or just enjoy catching them. Here is a quick guide to crabbing:
1. Take a bucket with you and add rocks and seaweed to it to help replicate the crab’s natural environment and reduce stress after you have fished it out of the sea.
2. Don’t use a line with a hook on. Either tie your bait (for example, bacon) on, or use an old pair of tights/bit of net to hold your bait.
3. Hold your crab gently on either side of its shell or pick it up with one finger on top of the shell and one finger underneath, avoiding the claws.
4. Change the water every 10 minutes to avoid asphyxiation and only keep the crabs in sea water.
5. Live brown crabs can stay alive for three to four days if they are kept cold and damp, ideally in the bottom if your fridge covered with a damp cloth. Do not put into fresh water. They need regular checking, so that if they die, they can be cooked immediately.
6. It is advisable to cook a crab once it has died, as this will not cause it any pain.
Some of our favourite crab recipes:
Crab, saffron and leek quiche: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/crabsaffronandleekqu_6231
Crabcakes with a tomato, crab and basil dressing: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/crabfishcakeswithato_6230