Venus clams, herring and John Dory, a few less famous seafood names to discover over for the festive season20-12-2016
While tradition dictates that the French enjoy langoustines, oysters or lobster to celebrate the festive season, there’s a rich trawl of other seafood products waiting to be discovered, which is equally delicious.
Just a few days away from Christmas, the entire fishing industry in France is getting ready to feed the nation with fish, shellfish and other seafood. So why not dip your toe in less well-known waters and consider other seafood options for the seasonal celebrations? And with this in mind, French seafood brand Pavillon France suggests a number of iconic French seafood products including Venus clams, herring and John Dory.
“Our company has been operating for five years now and our primary aim is to demonstrate that for our products, seasonality is key. Our fishermen are out there right now catching Venus clams, herring and John Dory,” points out Cecile Manale, Director of Communications at Pavillon France. Few consumers know it but products such as lobster and langoustine are predominantly fished during spring and summer, even though traditionally they are enjoyed over the festive season. And rightly so, as they are delicious, but as Cecile Manale explains, “more expensive and less tasty than if they were in season.” Maybe the time is ripe this year to discover some lesser-known, less expensive “Made in France” seafood.
Venus clams, herring and John Dory firmly featuring on festive menus in 2016
To know them is to love them and information is key. The Venus clam, or warty clam. is a small shellfish and cousin of the palourde. Clams can be eaten between September and April, and especially over Christmas and New Year. When it comes to buying, live Venus clams should have the shell intact and “closed”, or the shell should close naturally when touched. They are delicious served raw with a hint of lemon or vinegar to retain all the flavours. When cooked they can be prepared like all clams, and are delicious cooked in the oven with garlic butter.
Herring is a one of the cheapest fish available on the market. Caught in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, it is in season from October to March. When buying, key traits to look out for are bright scales, red eyes and a slender body. Herring can be enjoyed whipped up into a “brandade” spread, smoked, marinated or even made into homemade pate.
Finally John Dory, also known as Saint-Pierre, can be enjoyed from March to December. When buying, look out for its iodine smell and markings on the side of the fish that are a sign of freshness. The flesh should be firm, subtle and delicate like turbot or sole. Served whole it can be baked in the oven or cooked in a broth. Cut into thick fillets, it is delicious grilled or “en papillotte”.
Recipe idea for Venus clams
Pavillon France invited chef Charles Soussin to give Venus Clams a delicious festive twist:
Clam verrine with potato and pumpkin, and light lobster oil mayonnaise.
Preparation time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
800g Pavillon France Venus clams (known as “praire” in French)
4 potatoes (firm)
Olive oil, salt and pepper
A dash of lobster oil
100g fromage blanc
For the mayonnaise
1 egg yolk
1 tsp mustard
Salt and pepper
10cl peanut oil
Peel the potatoes and boil in salted water taking care not to overcook. Remove, allow to cool and cut into half-centimetre dice.
Peel the onion and chop finely.
Wash the pumpkin, cut into dice and sweat in olive oil. Add salt and pepper and set aside.
Rinse the clams well in clear water several times to remove any dirt or sand.
Allow the onions to sweat in a pan, add the clams and cook with a lid on for 3-4 minutes.
Strain the cooking juice and set aside, Remove the clams from their shells and set aside in a small quantity of juice.
In a pan, reduce the strained juice.
Meanwhile make a classic mayonnaise, add the reduced juice, the fromage blanc and the lobster oil.
Assemble all the ingredients in the verrines.
For more information about French seafood :