There’s something wonderfully iconic about eating fresh shellfish straight off the fire. There are many methods you can use, from just a piece of old corrugated iron sitting over a campfire, a gas-fired hot plate or, my favourite, cooking over charcoal or hardwood. When the fire is hot, the shells burn a little before opening and this adds a nice hint of smoke. The other great thing about cooking shellfish this way is that you don’t overcook them, as you remove each one individually as they open. This prevents losing all that wonderful briny liquor.
Tuatua are a native clam found at low tide on sandy beaches around New Zealand. By all means substitute littleneck clams, small mussels or similar.
Step 1: Cooking and Serving
Pre heat your barbeque until good and hot.
On the side or corner of the grill, place a small metal bowl. Add the butter, garlic, lemon zest, tarragon, dill, parsley, lemon juice, then add a good half a dozen grinds of black pepper. Stir all together once melted, then remove from the heat and keep warm.
Cook the tuatua in batches so you don’t overcrowd the grill. Remove the tuatua as they open and place in large stainless steel bowl. Once each batch is opened, stir the butter quickly to combine everything, then pour enough over the tuatua to coat. Toss in the bowl then pour onto a platter. Serve with bread for wiping up the butter and juices. Repeat with the remaining tuatua.
Photography by Kieran Scott