Buying and preparing mussels

I like to choose mid-size mussels – so not too big or too small – and without too many barnacles, as they all need scraping off. They tend to smell of seaweed – or, in my mind, rock pools – but anything more than that, steer clear. Keep mussels at the bottom of the fridge in a bowl, unwrapped from plastic bags but covered with damp kitchen paper. Wash in cold water, pull away any weedy beards, then tap sharply on the countertop. Keep mussels that close, discard any that don’t. When cooked, throw away any that have not opened.

Description: Raw mussels

Raw mussels


Sesame-crusted fish with samphire & clams

I particularly enjoy this with a smidge of hot chilli oil as well as sesame – a dish that makes you feel more alive with each slurp.

·         Serves 2 

·         Prep 10 mins 

·         Cook 10 mins


·         2 nests (140g/5oz) medium or thick egg noodles

·         2 fillets sustainable white fish, skin on, scaled and pin-boned (I used sea bream)

·         4 tsp sesame seeds

·         3 tsp sunflower or vegetable oil thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled and  finely shredded

·         300g/11oz fresh clams

·         2 tbsp dry Sherry 90g pack samphire (or a few handfuls from the fishmonger)

·         2 x 18g sachets (or 2 tbsp) miso soup paste

·         Bunch spring onions, shredded little sesame or chilli oil (or both),  to serve

White fish fillets


1.    Cook the noodles following pack instructions. As soon as they are just tender, drain in a colander, rinse under the cold tap and set aside.

2.    Slash each piece of fish 3 times on the skin side. Season well and press the sesame seeds over the skin in an even layer.

3.    Heat the oven to low, ready to keep the fish warm. Put a couple of wide bowls in to warm, too. Heat 2 tsp oil in a non-stickfrying pan, the sturdier the better. Add the fish, and fry for 5 mins on the crustedside until the seeds are pale golden and the flesh of the fish has changed colour almost all the way through. Turn the fish over, cook for a few secs more, then remove to a plate and transfer to the oven. Put the kettle on to boil.

4.    Add the remaining oil to the pan and sizzle the ginger for 30 secs. With the heat very high, tip in the clams, then the Sherry and 1 tbsp water. Put the lid on and leave to steam and sizzle until the shells are opened, about 1-2 mins. Shake the pan every 30 secs or so. Add the samphire, cover again and cook for 1 minmore until bright and just tender.

5.    Make up the miso in a jug with 450ml boiling water. Run boiling water through the noodles to reheat, then pile into the warm bowls. Spoon over the clams (discard any that haven’t opened) with the ginger, samphire and any juices,  plus the spring onions, then pour over the miso and top with a piece of crisp fish, sesame-side up. Drizzle with a little sesame or chilli oil (or both), then dig in.

Per serving 601 kcals, protein 47g, carbs 54g,  fat 20g, sat fat 3g, fibre 7g, sugar 3g, salt 3.3g

Description: Sesame-crusted fish with samphire & clams

Sesame-crusted fish with samphire & clams

Miso soup

I used Marukome Instant Miso Soup Sachets, available online or in specialist shops. It has a dashi (seaweed and fish stock) base, mixed with delicate white miso, making it a great choice for fish. Not all brands are made with dashi, so if you use a supermarket brand, taste the broth before serving – you may need to pep it up with a little soy sauce.

Pin-boning fish

Even if your fishmonger has been careful, it’s best to check filleted fish for bones. Run your finger along the flesh side; any bones will soon make themselves known. Use a pair of tweezers (you can buy special fish bone tweezers from kitchen shops) to yank out the bones, taking care not to damage the flesh. If your fish has a long line of small bones along the middle, then you can cut them out instead. Using a very sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut a fine V-shape, going either side of the bones along the length of the fillet down to the skin, but not through it. Pull out the bones and the little flesh attached in one neat strip.

Preparing clams

There seems to be a little debate out there about how best to prepare clams for cooking. Sometimes they can be gritty, so I put mine in a large bowl of heavily salted cold water and leave them for 30 minutes or so. Lift out the clams – there will most likely be some grit or sand at the bottom. Discard any that do not close when tapped.

Description: Preparing clams

Preparing clams


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