From childhood, I have had a deep appreciation of seafood. I'm not just talking about the fancy stuff (fish, prawns and lobster) but seafood in all its diversity.
After migrating from Spain we settled in Geelong, in Victoria. Most weekends I'd take off with my dad, collecting clams, mussels from piers, velvet crabs from rocks and the occasional octopus caught in a rock pool when the tide was out. We did this out of necessity. Back then no one sold this type of seafood. We had migrated from a country that consumes more seafood per head than anywhere but Japan to 1980s Australia, a place where delicious mussels were considered worthy only of fish bait.
As world fish stocks shrink, it is important to eat a more diverse range of seafood from well-managed aquaculture farms to ensure a healthy and sustainable fisheries industry.
These days, Australia produces what I believe are the finest mussels in the world. There are also sustainable fisheries that catch superb octopuses from Western Australia. Large Fremantle octopuses are available from fishmongers in frozen portions. Octopus is the only seafood that benefits from freezing before cooking. The process makes the large tentacles tender - just like the old technique of banging them against a rock.
Tasmanian and South Australian mussels are available in convenient one-kilogram bags, cleaned,
de-bearded and ready to cook. Don't listen to the old line about throwing away mussels that fail to open straight away; it's wrong. Some just take a little longer. Use your nose to find the bad ones instead.
Barcelona-born Frank Camorra is chef and co-owner of Melbourne's MoVida Bar de Tapas. MoVida Sydney will open next month.
350g red radishes
3 medium Lebanese cucumbers
1 tbsp chopped parsley
80ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice of one lemon
With a sharp knife, remove octopus head and discard. Heat a flat grill to its maximum temperature. Place tentacles on grill and cover with a flat baking tray with some weight on top - a heavy cast iron pot will work well. Cook for 7-10 minutes, turn, then cook for another 7-10 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly on a tray. Top the radishes and peel, leaving a little skin to add a flash of colour. Peel cucumbers in the same way, then cut in half lengthways and remove seeds with a small spoon. Discard seeds and cut cucumber into thin slices. Cut radishes in half lengthways and slice into half moons about 1mm thick. Place salad ingredients in a bowl with chopped parsley, oil and lemon juice. Slice tentacles into 2.5cm pieces. Toss with salad and season with salt. Serve while octopus is still warm with plenty of bread to sop up the juices.
POTATOES IN GREEN SAUCE WITH MUSSELS
1 onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
1kg potatoes, peeled and cut into 1cm slices
200ml dry white wine
Handful flat leaf parsley
2kg mussels, de-bearded and scrubbed
In a wide-based saucepan, cook onion, garlic and a pinch of salt in olive oil on a low to medium heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and just beginning to caramelise. Add potatoes, mix, then add white wine. Continue to cook on a medium heat for about 5 minutes or until most of the wine has evaporated. Add enough fish stock to just cover the potatoes. Simmer for 25-30 minutes until potatoes are tender. The sauce will thicken with the potatoes' natural starch. Add parsley and mussels, then cover with a lid. Cook for 5 minutes until mussels are open, shaking the pan a few times. Serve on individual plates.