While oysters, mussels and scallops receive their fair share of attention, there's a bevy of other shellfish, too, such as pippies, cockles and clams, which promise plenty of pleasure on the plate. These daintier varieties, along with mussels, should be purchased alive. You can check their condition by tapping any open shells - they should close immediately. They're sometimes sold sandless (that is, purged of sand), but if they're not, you'll need to purge them. Do this by soaking in salted cold water for about an hour. Discard any shells that don't open during cooking. While fresh scallops are available to restaurants, they're harder for home cooks to lay their hands on. Look for examples with plump flesh and always buy them fresh rather than frozen. If you can't find shellfish at your local market or fishmonger, give your local Chinatown a go.
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 onions, coarsely chopped
- 1 tbsp dried thyme leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1.2 kg oxtail, cut into 5cm lengths
- For dusting: plain flour
- 2 green-lip abalone, cleaned (see note)
- 6 strips of lemon rind, removed with a peeler
- 500 ml veal or chicken stock
- 3 baby fennel, halved and thinly sliced lengthways, fronds reserved
- 1Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large flame-proof casserole dish, add onion, thyme and garlic and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes or until tender. Place in a bowl. Add remaining oil to casserole, dust oxtail in flour and cook over high heat, turning occasionally for 5 minutes or until golden.
- 2Preheat oven to 150C. Cut abalone into 1cm thick slices and place in casserole with onion mixture and lemon rind. Cover with veal stock, season to taste and bring to a simmer. Cover and bake for 4 hours or until abalone is tender. Combine fennel and fennel fronds and serve with abalone and oxtail.
Note Green or black-lipped abalone is available by request from specialist seafood companies.
Drink Suggestion: Top-quality pinot noir. Drink suggestion by Max Allen