Turns out we can't catch fish. We followed all the traditional fish catching rules but got barely a bite. So for the last two weeks of our time in NZ we lived off tuatua for our meat. And they were delicious. Tuatua are an indigenous New Zealand species in the clam family (just like a pipi). Traditionally everyone makes Tuatua fritters with them in New Zealand. But we think this recipe is heaps better (sorry tradition).
Every few days we would go down to the beach and hand-collect our dinner. Some days, you could just walk along and pick them up from the shoreline, other days – you had to wetsuit up and get in there. But no matter what, they were prolific – it was so easy to collect them it was almost unfair. We used all the things we had lying around in the fridge for this one – pre-cooked soy beans from the day before, pickled carrots from a week before, cress grown by Barry (our beach neighbour) and our tuatua, fresh from the ocean. The biggest surprise of all from this one: the soybeans made the dish.
ON SOY BEANS
Eat more of them! Just make sure they are organically grown and non-GM. We have only recently fallen in love with soy beans cooked and eaten whole just like other beans. They are completely delicious, filling and full of healthy goodness. Eating them whole requires less processing then tofu and tempeh and no packaging compared (assuming you aren't making you're own tofu or tempeh of course).
There is a lot of fear around soy but as with all things balance is the key. We eat a diverse range of grains and legumes and love them all!
ON THE SUSTAINABILITY OF CLAMS
As they are generally harvested by hand there are no damaging effects on the ocean floor.
As long as population numbers are being maintained tuatua’s/pipis/clams are considered sustainable. However, some areas have seasons that they must be harvested within and in other areas the supply is largely unknown.
In NZ and Australia harvesting tuatua and/or pipis is considered sustainable or undefined and in most areas you can collect them year round.
Serves 4 side-dishes // Time 20-30 mins
Tuatua or pipis are best eaten after they are left to sit in a bucket of salt water for 12-24 hours before cooking, as this allows them to eliminate any sand in them. Additionally, feeding them some flour (any type) helps them to spit out the sand inside them.
For preparing the tuatua
Juice of ½ a lemon or lime
Big splash of good olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp of chilli flakes
1 tsp tamari/soy sauce
For the salad
½ cup of quick pickled carrot and some of the garlic, ginger and chilli from the jar too
¼ cup of cooked soybeans
The cooked, de-shelled tuatua
1 big bunch of watercress (no main stem if big plant, equates to one cup of cooked greens)
For the dressing
3 tbsp vinegar mixture from pickled carrot
2 tbsp of good olive oil
1 tsp of sauce reduction
A squeeze of lime
• Combine all ingredients except the tuatua in a pan. Drain Tuatua and wash in fresh water to get off remaining salt water. Add Tuatua to the pan and steam fry until all the shells have opened.
• De-shell tuatua and set aside. Keep liquid for dressing (see below).
• Steam fry watercress for 5 minutes, or until just wilting. Drain and combine with all remaining ingredients
• Reduce liquid from tuatua preparation at a simmer in a broad sauce pan until it forms a thick sauce.
• Combine one tablespoon of this reduction with all remaining ingredients and shake.
• Pour over salad and serve. You can serve this dish as a main meal or as a side salad. Our preference is as a side salad, served with rice.