Collecting tuatuas is a comical sight to novice onlookers. Young and old twist and turn, digging their toes into the sand at low tide, feeling for patches of these humble shellfish. The silence of this activity is broken only occasionally by a shriek of pain resounding across the bay as a three inch sand crab latches onto a unsuspecting big toe! This fritter recipe can be adapted to any number of shellfish species. Just substitute the weight of the steamed shellfish. I’m a big fan of New Zealand purewasabi, grown in Canterbury by Copperfolly. I find it’s a great accompaniment to all seafood and mixed through this mayonnaise, you can have it as hot or as mild as you wish. When serving these types of shellfish either steamed or in a fritter form, my wine of choice invariably ends up being a crisp ripe chilled Sauvignon Blanc from Malborough.
Step 1: Wasabi and Basil Mayonnaise
Using a hand held wand blender fitted with a metal blade, place the egg yolks, mustard, lemon juice, cider vinegar and sugar in a bowl and blitz for 5 seconds. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the two oils and blitz until combined. Take out 3/4 of your mayonnaise and then add the basil leaves to the remaining quarter. Blitz until smooth. Now fold the basil and plain mayonnaises together, and stir through the wasabi. Season with salt and pepper to taste and keep refrigerated until required.
Step 2: Tuatua Fritter Batter
Take a bowl and whisk all of the ingredients together until you have a smooth thick-ish batter.
Step 3: Tuatua Fritter Mix
Steam the fresh tuatua for 5-10 minutes until they open. Once cool enough to handle, remove the tuatua flesh from the shell. On a chopping board, chop the tuatua meat until nice and fine. Place in a bowl and add the finely chopped red onion, corriander, the chilli sauce and lemon juice. Fold in the batter mix and season with salt and pepper.
Step 4: Cooking and Serving
Heat up your flat top to a medium high heat and oil lightly. Dollop fritter-sized spoonfuls onto the flat top and cook until they are golden on each side and the batter is set. Serve on a platter with a dish of the wasabi and basil mayonnaise on the side for dipping. Give the fritters a good squeeze of lemon juice just prior to serving.
Photography by Kieran Scott