Thursday, 19 June 2014

Foraging



Did you think that there was no such thing as a free lunch well think again. There are all sorts of edibles available free of charge and often there just outside your front door. There is nothing so rewarding as exploring the countryside and finding food growing wild that you can take home and use in your cooking.

Andrew & I love to spend time gathering wild food, especially seafood, and over the last few years the only time we seem to be able to indulge in this pastime is whilst were on holiday.

At the end of last spring we had a go at gathering clams & razor clams whilst we were in the Isles of Scilly - one of my favourite places on earth.



At low tide the sand flats are exposed between the islands and you can wander out to the low tide mark and see what you can dig up. The area in the photo above is completely exposed at low water - perfect for foraging.



Here I'm searching for likely spots - you have to tread very lightly to stop the clams digging deeper.

The clams we we're looking for live under the sand and the razor clams leave a tell tale 'keyhole' breathing hole on the surface. You have to spot it & dig down really fast to get to them before they dive lower. 

Another way of catching them is to sprinkle salt on the breathing hole & the shells will pop up for you to grab but you have to be quick and I'm not! Andrew was good at that so I left him to it & I went looking for the other variety of clams.


All you need is a bucket (with some sea water in it) and a spade (& some salt if your going to have a go with that) 



After an hour of digging we had a enough for a decent meal.



We managed to to gather 4 different varieties of clams as well as the razor clams.

To cook them we used a very simple recipe that also works well with mussels ( & probably any shellfish really)

First off wash your clams until you have removed of all the sand and clean each shell with a nailbrush to dislodge all the seaweed etc.


Recipe
Serve 2
1 large onion chopped finely
1 small packet of lardons 
some white wine (about a glass full)
half pint cream
2 cloves of garlic - crushed
some chopped parsley
freshly ground pepper
some olive oil


Now grab a large cooking pot - that has a lid - add some olive oil & over a gentle heat saute the bacon & lardons. Once the onions have turned glassy add the garlic.

Increase the heat and add the clams ( I love the sound of the clams hitting the pan) give a quick stir & then add the wine. Pop the lid on and leave for 3-4 minutes.

Add the cream & the parsley

Pop the lid on again just to heat the cream through and let the flavours combine.

Remove from the heat and add some freshly ground black pepper. And serve with fresh bread to mop up the juices.


Remember to discard any shellfish that haven't opened during cooking and also don't cook any that wont close before!

Here's a little video we took on our way to the sand flats. The water was so clear!