07 May 2009

Cockles, no Mussels, Alive, Alive, O

Ever since I was a little kid one of my favourite seafoods has been mussels. In Newfoundland blue mussels grow just about everywhere and only rarely are there any health warnings about them (although this may have changed in the past few years. In Korea they're called hong hab (hohng hop, "red shellfish"), the same type that are around Newfoundland, and they were really cheap and easy to get when I first got here but I haven't seen them in quite a few months.

A couple of weeks ago, when we were out looking at the bikes, I asked Se-yeong to ask a lady in the seafood department if they were going to get any mussels. Apparently they're inedible at the moment due to toxic tides. I see the shucked raw shellfish in styrofoam trays in the supermarket but my upbringing won't allow me to eat any shellfish that can't be seen opening their shells when cooked. I suppose they're alright, I mean the supermarket sells them, but I just can't trust them to be okay to eat. I suppose I'll have to break down and try some soon though, I really miss them.

I noticed that they had dried mussels in the dried seafood cooler at the supermarket (it says "gun hong hab" in Korean on the bag in the photo -- "dried mussels") . I recognized these little wrinkled sea-raisins from my Chinese cooking addiction. From the photo on the bag I'd guess they're used in some sort of banchan. Usually I toss a bunch of mussels into my doenjangjjigae when I make it, which makes it pretty rich, so I thought that perhaps dried mussels might do the trick. Se-yeong said that they should be good for that so I'll have to give it a try this weekend. If I can figure out how to make that banchan dish I'll give it a try but I think it might be a bit too strong tasting.

A new favourite shellfish, that I haven't seen in Newfoundland, is the cockle (photo at the top). Newfoundland has few sandy beaches for clams to live on, its rocky cliffs and stone beaches are better suited to the mussel. I can remember eating soft-shell clams in Newfoundland (where they are called "cocks and hens", I'll leave the possible reason to your imagination) but they're harder to find than mussels and "dirtier". A little pot of cockles costs about 2,500 won (~$2CDN) and I just eat them right out of the shell dipped in a little vinegar and pepper. They don't really taste as good as mussels to me but they're really meaty.

If you need to look up any words in Newfoundland English I highly recommend the searchable online Dictionary of Newfoundland English. It's a great tool for any Newfoundlander interested in history and culture. I might start using it in my ESL classes so that a new generation of Koreans will know the proper English terminology for an 'armful of something' is a 'yaffle'. I will warn you that it's better to use the little alphabetic index than to search for a word, the search feature seems to only search the text of the definitions, not the words themselves.

1 comment:

  1. Funny how you can't eat shellfish that you haven't seen come out of its' shell - I have trouble eating the tiny pale fleshed "mussels" that they serve at restaurants here. Mussels are ORANGE!!! Diane


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