There are some wonderful foods that come from the sea which some people do not know about; for example laver bread which is a seaweed, and delicious when bought already cleans so that all you have to do is fry it in bacon fat with some cockles for breakfast with eggs and bacon and a sausage or two along with mushrooms. It’s full of iron and iodine and is good for your health as well as being very tasty. This is a traditional Welsh recipe, enjoyed all along the Gower coast.
Another of my favourite recipes is one from the Alentejo region of Portugal; I had this in a wonderful restaurant in the mountains but the only problem was that we ordered far more than we could possibly eat. The dish was pork and clams; the pork had been marinated in white wine, garlic, thyme, onions and possibly oregano and the clams had been cooked in the dish with the tenderloin of pork. It was delicious, but I don’t think I had realized before that meal that pork could combine so well with seafood.
Octopus cooked in red wine, with tomatoes and macaroni is another of my favourite seafood dishes, but Greek this time. You need to throw the whole octopus in a large pan with just a little water, cover the pan and cook on a low to moderate heat for 15 minutes. When you remove the lid, the octopus will be cooked, you can tell because the tentacles will have curled up and you will have a pinky liquid at the bottom of the pan. You fry onions and garlic in olive oil and cut the octopus into bite size pieces, removing and discarding the beak and any other bits of the head you don’t want to use. When the onions are translucent, throw in the octopus, tomatoes (about a kilo of chopped) red wine and macaroni and cook until the macaroni is tender with some black pepper and oregano and thyme.
Another of my all time favourite seafood dishes is again from Portugal, although they eat it in Spain too, and that is cuttlefish cooked in its own ink. Squid cooked like this is great too. It isn’t the prettiest dish you could have on your plate, but it is worth trying just once.
Finally there is the sea urchin, which is very underused and under-rated. I first came across it while living on Mykonos, Greece, when I was given half a prickly shell, half a lemon and some bread which I had to dip in olive oil and move around the interior of the hell to scoop up the orange star in the centre. It was delicious, and I then tasted the sea urchin soup, but that was way too gelatinous for my taste. Later on the island of Aegina I was invited to try sea urchins in a novel way – in a shot glass with a touch of Tabasco some freshly squeezed lemon juice and a slug of tsipouro (something like ouzo). This was good too; if not a traditional Greek dish it certainly had the flavours of the country.
There are so many varieties of seafood that we can use, it seems a shame to just stick to the ones we are familiar with. Why not experiment with some of the seafood I’ve mentioned here and give your taste buds a treat?