I love seafood. Seafood, unfortunately, is expensive which means I don’t cook with it as often as I would like. Once again this recipe is from Nigella Kitchen (18 months later this is still my favourite book). I have wanted to make the roast seafood from the chapter titled ‘Kitchen Comfort’ since I first flicked through the book. While I don’t classify seafood as a kitchen comfort, there was something alluring about the photo and I was fascinated by the idea that the seafood could be roasted in such a way.
I had an optometrist appoint early on Saturday morning (thrilling life I lead!) and knowing I would have to pass the Queen Victoria market on the tram, a plan formed. I decided to bring my little shopping cart and I would complete my produce shopping and go to down in the seafood section. For those unfamiliar to Melbourne, the Queen Vic market is a market located just on the border of the CBD. Easily accessible via public transport the market sells produce (on most days), souvenirs, cloths, paintings, jewelry. It has a deli and a meat and seafood section. Following my appointment I was a little late getting to the market (around 10sih). I say late, because it was chaotic, and bursting with people. I left content, and with a cart full of the weeks fruits, vegetables and fresh seafood for this dish. I was happy.
Roast seafood isn’t a dish you would cook every week, it’s simply too expensive. It is something you would cook when the weather is cool, and you want something special to share. It’s a perfect dish to pop in the middle of a dining table, along with a green salad and let everyone help themselves. I served it with a simple green salad and everyone was satiated.
The vegetables need to roast for about an hour, prior to adding the seafood. This is because the seafood does not take long to cook. Nigella uses:
* 750g Potatoes
* 8 cloves garlic
* 2 small red onions
I decided there wasn’t enough flavour and added a parsnip and sweet potato.
Chop the vegetables and place them in a large roasting pan, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil and I added a pinch of salt. Roast them in a hot oven (Around 220C) for about an hour.
While the vegetables are roasting it’s important to prepare the seafood. The seafood in the recipe:
* 350g Clams in their shells
* 16 Raw unpeeled King Prawns
* 6-8 Baby Squid
* 300g Small Clams
* 1 Bag of Mussels
* 200g Squid
* 600-700 prawns
When purchasing prawns for cooking, I will often select the peeled prawns. Long ago I decided the extra cost outweighed the messy handling of preparing the prawns for eating.
As the prawns and squid were prepared for the roast I left them in the fridge.
The clams need to soak for about an hour. While they were soaking I scrubbed their shells to remove any dirt. After an hour, just before they are ready to be added to the potatoes, drain, rinse and discard any that haven’t closed.
Mussels, contrary to Nigella’s advice earlier in the book, should not be soaked in fresh water as this will kill them. To prepare them remove their beards (I followed Taste’s advice), then rinse under cold water scrubbing the shells to remove any sand, dirt or banacles. I discarded the ones that didn’t close after running them under cold water.
After an hour, remove the pan of vegetables from the oven. Quickly arrange the seafood on top and cook for a further 15 minutes. Add 45 ml of Dry Vermouth and drizzle with some oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Some things to keep in mind:
– Don’t put the mussels in at the same time, instead, add them ten minutes after adding the rest of the seafood. They don’t take long to cook. After seeing them open up in the oven I took them out, as not to over cook them. (See photograph below).
– Make sure the squid is towards the bottom so it can cook in the juices being released by the seafood. If not the squid will dry out. Make sure the squid is cooked before removing from the pan.
Once the remaining seafood is cooked, remove from the oven and sprinkle with some fresh, flat-leaf parsley.