Go Fish by Al Brown (Random House New Zealand, 2009) is a 2010 IACP Cookbook awards finalist in the Single Subject category. For a list of all the finalists check out the Project Foodie IACP Finalists' Guide.
Full disclosure, Al Brown is my friend, so I'm thrilled to see his book, GO FISH nominated in the IACP awards this year. Unfortunately this book is not available in North America. I hope Random House New Zealand remedies this soon. Al Brown is one of New Zealand's best chefs and co-owner of Wellington's acclaimed restaurant, Logan Brown. Al also loves to go fishing.
Photo by Kieran Scott
Anthony Bourdain said, "Al Brown is a veritable Colossus of seafood cookery and GO FISH is destined to be a standard text for anyone who wants to know how to do seafood right."
And GO FISH is well on the way, topping the bestseller list in New Zealand since its release. This is not a cheffy book; the recipes are straightforward and delicious, revealing the bounty of New Zealand's waters. There are familiar oysters, scallops, flounder and monkfish, paua and kina (better known here as abalone and sea urchin) and some uniquely New Zealand fish. Luckily Al is practical: there is a handy guide to New Zealand fish with suggested substitute, and the book's dust jacket folds out into a large poster illustrating the fish.
Al's sense of humor shines through in this book and he has an interest in quirky facts, another reason why I love it. The side bar with the clam recipe reveals that the biggest clam ever found was in Okinawa in 1956, and it weighed an incredible 750 pounds.
Al is equally passionate about fishing and cooking and he cares about their future. He challenges us to rethink how we harvest the oceans - this is a cookbook with a conscience. GO FISH is a celebration of New Zealand cuisine, full of stunning photographs, practical step-by-steps shots, and magnificent scenes of the country's coastline. It will lure you into the kitchen and have you calling your travel agent to book a flight to this beautiful country.
Littleneck Clams with Fresh Herb, Chilli & Garlic Broth
From Go Fish by Al Brown (Random House New Zealand, 2009). Copyright 2009 Al Brown.
Known to most as cockles, the correct name for these shellfish is actually littleneck clams. Found in abundance in harbours and estuaries up and down the country, these delicious-eating clams flourish in the intertidal zone and can be as dense as 4500 per square metre. Harvested commercially from as far north as Whangarei Harbour to the inlets of Dunedin Peninsula using accepted sustainable methods, littleneck clams are available practically all year round. They have quite a small flesh-to-shell ratio, but they give up a good amount of particularly flavourful briny
liquor when cooked. Though chowders are the most famous type of clam dish, I end up normally cooking these delicacies in simple and slight variations of the below recipe. I love to rustle up the kids, grab an onion sack and go for a gather at low tide. I can't think of a quicker, more satisfying meal than clams in a pot, with a splash of white wine, garlic, herbs and butter. Plenty of warm crusty bread for soaking up the broth is not negotiable!
- 48 littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons finely diced garlic
- pinch of dried chilli flakes
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups chicken stock
- juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons butter
Place the clams along with the garlic, chilli flakes, wine, stock and the lemon juice and zest in a large saucepan, cover with a lid and place on high heat.
Cook for about 5 minutes. Give the saucepan a shake to mix up the ingredients and help the clams open.
Once open, remove the clams immediately with a slotted spoon, reserving the cooking liquid, and divide the clams into warm serving bowls.
Place the cooking liquid back on medium heat, add the basil and parsley, then whisk in the butter. Once the butter is incorporated, pour the broth over the clams.
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.