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It's summer time, a time I love, a time when the harvest begins and within that harvest comes some of my favourites ... corn, eggplant and kai moana.
I love corn and I love cooking it in many ways at my restaurant Ode, but also at home on the barbecue, wrapped in its natural husks and burnt to a crisp only to reveal golden perfectly cooked cobs shouting out at you for a thin layer of salty butter.
Did you know humanity once had 307 varieties of corn, most Western countries now produce less than six? Luckily, our South American friends have been seed banking and still have hundreds of types of corn either saved or in production.
Our food diversity is precious and benefits mankind in so many ways, striving for diversity over quantity and maximum profit is a concept that is only just coming around to us in the Western world, and I could not be happier about it.
What would summer be without some famed kiwi kai moana?
However, these are lean times with recent articles being published on just how low our fisheries stocks have become, so we look to shellfish to save the proverbial day, mussels, clams, tuatua and pipi's delight in every way a true seafood lover is searching for.
So today I take a twist on the tuatua with the master stock recipe from my previous column. Pour a cold beverage, fire up the barbecue and treat yourself to some seasonal goodness.
Feeds 2 large eaters
1kg shellfish (I foraged some tuatua. Mussels, clams and pipi's are also great)
1 large organic eggplant
3 organic corn cobs, husk on
200ml organic olive oil
500ml master stock (any stock or white wine will do)*
*Lucas' master stock recipe was published on page 18 on January 23. It can be found at online at www.odt.co.nz/lifestyle/food-wine/recipes/waste-not-want-not
Firstly, if you have foraged your own shellfish make sure it's from clean water, as sadly there is a lot of polluted waterways and bays in New Zealand nowadays.
And secondly, soak the shellfish in plenty of salt water (or salted water) for at least a few hours or overnight is optimum,
Take a single layer off the cornleaving most of the layers of husk. Remove the hairy husky tips.
Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 2cm strips.
Put a large pot on to the grill or a hob and pour the stock in. You want the stock boiling once the corn and eggplant are almost ready, if it boils fast keep it on a low simmer and increase the heat to a boil when needed.
Place corn on the barbecue at high heat, turning once each side is completely charred black, then set to one side of the barbecue and turn heat down where the corn is sitting. Turn occasionally.
Fill a shallow dish with the olive oil and place the eggplant into the oil for 2-3 seconds on each side to soak up the oil, do this with each piece, with your finger wipe off any excess oil and season. Grill the eggplant until it's nicely charred on one side - this takes about 2-3 minutes. Just after you flip the eggplant, add the shellfish to the boiling stock, put the lid on and steam for 3 minutes.
If it all works out, the eggplant should be perfectly soft and charred, the shellfish should be served just opened and the corn can be scraped of its blackened husks to reveal the golden goodness underneath, the latter can get messy so have something handy to scrape the ash into - it's great as compost or fertiliser.
Put it all on the table, squeeze the lemon over the shellfish, butter the corn and get your hands dirty. I even ate the eggplant with my hands, that is the essence of my summer dinner table.
Chef's tip: Throw in a small handful of ground-up oats into the water to speed up the sand purging process - they eat up the oats and spit out the sand.
Chef's tip: Strain the leftover stock afterwards for an amazing broth. Add a dash of tamari and lemon for added excellence. Holds for 3 days in a fridge.