Hundreds of oyster buffs at the recent Coromandel Oyster Festival enjoyed warm and rain-free weather between days of showers and gales. Held at The Mussel Kitchen just south of Coromandel township, organiser Anne Louden said it was a great example of how smaller communities support each other.
Sliders were my favourite of the day. Oysters were dipped in a tempura-like batter, deep-fried then skewered between split slider buns containing tangy slaw. Raw oysters were plentiful and served with tempting dipping sauces and lemon wedges. Fritters were also a popular choice with our group.
The farming of oysters — in particular Pacific oysters — started in the 1970s and the industry now produces over three million dozen a year. Farmers have developed a safe, sustainable and environmentally-friendly industry.
Oysters are high in protein and an excellent source of copper, iodine, magnesium, selenium and vitamin C as well as tasting yum.
Green-lipped mussels are also grown in Coromandel waters and farmed mussels are New Zealand’s major aquaculture industry. Most mussel spat is collected from Northland’s Ninety Mile Beach and transferred to mussel farms where they grow on ropes. Mussels are also high in protein and low in fat and contain many other nutritional benefits including Omega 3. But best of all they are relatively inexpensive and extremely versatile.
The batter should be of a pouring consistency.
Batter: 1 small egg yolk
3/4 cup each: ice-cold water, plain flour
pinch baking soda
Sliders: 6 slider buns, toasted, if preferred
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1 cup sango sprouts or cress
canola oil for deep frying
12 oysters, drained and patted dry
6 basil leaves
Whisk together the batter ingredients until smooth.
Halve the slider buns and spread the cut surfaces with ranch dressing. Top the bases with sprouts.
Heat the oil in a small deep saucepan or wok until a faint haze rises.
Dip the oysters in the batter and shake to remove the excess. Deep-fry briefly — in batches if necessary — until crisp and golden.
Pile 2 oysters on each slider base, top with more sprouts, the basil, then the bun tops.
Secure with skewer and serve immediately. Makes 6.
OYSTERS WITH CHILLI & LIME
A favourite starter.
Dressing: finely grated rind 1 lime
1/4 cup lime juice
1 teaspoon diced chilli
1/2 teaspoon each: fish sauce, caster sugar
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 small peach, peeled, stoned and thinly sliced
6 mint leaves, thinly sliced
Oysters:12 oysters in their shells, loosened
Combine all the ingredients for the dressing and chill until required. Best prepared and used on the same day.
Place the oysters on a serving plate and spoon the dressing over. Serves 2 as a starter.
TERRIFIC THAI-STYLE MUSSELS
Simple and quick to prepare.
16 green-lipped mussels
1-2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
2 tablespoons each: fish sauce, finely grated root ginger
4 tablespoons chopped coriander
2 sprigs Vietnamese or plain mint
400g can coconut milk
1/2 cup water
2 cups hot cooked rice
Scrub the mussels well in cold water and remove the beards.
Place the curry paste, fish sauce, root ginger, coriander, mint coconut milk and water in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 3-4 minutes.
Add the mussel. Cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the mussels open. Remove the mussels to one side as they open.
Serve the mussels on the rice in bowls pouring the sauce over the top. Serves 2.