Wednesday 11 April 2012

Naturally Gluten Free Shellfish

scallops and oysters
Scallops and Oysters
As a person who developed coeliac as an adult I'm lucky that I was brought up on lots of shellfish from a young age, I know how to prepare it, I know how to cook it, and boy do I know how to glug those raw oysters down!

The great thing about being exposed to all manner of shellfish when I was younger is that it's one side of my gluten free diet that doesn't really need to be thought about. I'm not having to try new things to see if I like them or experiment with flavours, I can have an entire platter of shellfish and know that it is all naturally gluten free.

I had a bad experience with a crab salad at a restaurant. I stupidly assumed that it would be safe, that they would just give me the whole crab on a bed of salad and all would be fine, it wasn't. They dressed the crab with Colman's mustard and put it back into the shell. (The ready made stuff in the jar has gluten in it, the powder that you make up yourself doesn't.) I got glutened.

There's a couple of things to note about this incident.

1. I assumed that they would bring me the whole crab with just the inedible bits removed. That I would crack and pick it.

2. Why would you use Colman's blooming mustard on something that is so naturally delicious?!

To answer myself, 1. They obviously thought that I couldn't prepare the crab myself, I guess lots of people can't. 2. They aren't the seafood connoisseurs that they would have you believe.

I recall a long time prior to being a coeliac that a group of us went to Whitstable and ate at this fantastically rustic seafood restaurant. I ordered a whole crab and that's what I got. The inedible bits were taken out but other than that I was on my own. I had a whole crab on a plate, a crab cracker and a crab picker and that was it! It was fabulous. I got some strange looks from the group though and possibly comments, I don't recall exactly but I'm sure there was at least one "what are you going to do with it". Ummm.... Eat it?

The crab was great, the company? I'd rather been alone with the crab. It would have saved all the hurried glances away from me when I caught others checking out my mad crab picking skills with horrified looks on their faces.

What I found funny about this experience was that there were other people at the table eating crab, but it was crab that had been made into salads or cakes. I was seemingly deemed a freak because I had a whole one in front of me!

It's sadly now finished, but for the past four weeks I have been watching a really interesting show about Cornish fishermen, it's called The Fisherman's Apprentice With Monty Halls. It was fascinating to watch the little boats go out and bring in their catches, it was also astounding to realise that so much of our seafood ends up abroad.

I'm lucky, I've got this really cool little fishmonger near me, I say fishmonger, they deal mainly with shellfish but still. As a child, weekends were always filled with loads of shellfish; cockles, winkles, whelks, prawns, mussels, brown shrimps, scallops. I've probably forgotten some. So for me, cleaning, preparing and eating shellfish is second nature, I know that isn't the case for many. It's a shame, especially for coeliacs, there's all this amazing naturally gluten free food fresh from the sea and it's delicious!

If you don't like shellfish you don't like it, but what if you do like shellfish but you just don't know how to prepare it? The only time that you ever eat it is in restaurants (with possible cross contamination issues) but wish that you could have it at home? I think that's half the problem, produce is being sent abroad because we aren't eating it, but what if we aren't eating it because we don't know what to do with it rather than because we don't like it?!

I've decided to do a few posts about this, really simple posts that will show preparation and serving suggestions for shellfish. There's a whole bunch of naturally gluten free foods out there that lots aren't taking advantage of, those of you who this applies to are seriously missing out on gluten free goodness that can greatly vary your diets. There's also lots of zinc in shellfish *whispers* It's great for your bits!

1. How To Prepare A Crab
2. Scallops
3. Oysters
4. Mussels
5. Cooked Prawns
6. Whelks
7. Winkles
8. Raw Prawns

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