Ask Peter: Five fishy conundrums
1. What is the shelf-life of live mussels?
The rule of thumb is if mussels are already open discard them, likewise if they float when washed. Live mussels will keep in the fridge for two days, but keep them in a container covered with a very damp cloth.
See how to clean mussels here.
2. What’s the best way to get sand out of pipis?
Firstly, wash the pipis well. Then place a cake rack or steamer basket in a bucket, add the pipis, cover with lots of cold water and leave for one to two hours. Take the pipis out with your hands then tip the water away. If the water is gritty you’ll need to keep doing it. I know you might be wanting to cook them immediately but this purging is usually necessary.
3. Recipes often state to fry salmon skin until crispy but there is no mention of removing scales. Are salmon scales edible unlike other fish?
I always fry the skin side first -—you can keep the scales on as they go crispy if the pan is hot enough, and then they’re edible. Or remove them if you prefer. If you score the skin side with 3 to 4mm deep cuts, it stops the fish curling up.
4. What’s the secret to cooking calamari so that it’s tender and flavoursome?
Squid either needs to be cooked hot and quick (coated in seasoned cornflour and deep fried, or brushed with chilli oil and quickly barbecued) or slowly stewed for 30-45 minutes (with diced tomatoes, garlic, olives and a few fennel seeds). Cooked anywhere in between tends to make it tough and chewy.
5. Can you explain how best to use crayfish shells to make a chowder — a white creamy one rather than a bisque style.
Roast the crayfish shells in the oven until nice and toasty. Smash as fine as you can with a hammer (put the shells in a teatowel), then make a stock with them, using fish bones (rinse well first), white vegetables and carrots. Strain and use for a sauce — bechamel style with added cream and a pinch of saffron.
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes here.