I was taken with the recipes Jill Dupleix wrote up for the Sydney Morning Herald this week when I wrote the Food Section Digestion. I highlighted the Zucchini Carbonara, but I was also intrigued by the Oven Roasted Shellfish in a bag.
The problem is I'm allergic to crustaceans. I once was able to eat shrimp, crab, and lobster, but around age 23 or 24, I developed a severe allergic reaction to them. The recipe Ms. Dupleix wrote contained Balmain bugs (a type of clawless lobster) and prawns. Unless anaphylaxis was on the menu, those had to go.
What's left is a version of the original that I found very nice. I didn't have cherry tomatoes, but I had plenty of little Roma tomatoes from the farmer's market so I have substituted those. My wife doesn't go for olives, so those were removed as well. I've added wine to mellow the flavor.
I might add some whitefish fillets next time to add some variety and maybe some fresh fennel for flavor, but the packet technique is what's important. You can adapt this to just about any seafood to make a dinner with a minimum of fuss, even on a busy workweek night.
Crustaceanless Shellfish Packets after a recipe by Jill Dupleix
2 lbs. mussels in shell
12 littleneck clams in shell
1/2 lb. bay scallops out of shell, cleaned
3 plum tomatoes, cut into 12ths (quarter, stack, cut in thirds)
1 anaheim pepper, deseeded, sliced into half-rings of 1/4" each
2 cloves smashed garlic
1 cut clove of garlic
4 slices French or Italian bread
1/2 cup white wine
4 tablespoons olive oil
black pepper and sea salt to taste
1 lemon, cut in quarters
Soak the clams and mussels in cold water for an hour. Go to the gym while they soak - it's as good an opportunity as any.
Preheat the oven to 450 F. Have a baking sheet standing by.
Debeard (by savagely ripping the little beards off) and scrub the mussels. Discard any mussels with a cracked shell. Drain the clams and mussels and place in a large bowl.
Add the scallops, wine, pepper, olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes to the bowl and toss. Add in a bit of black pepper and a bit of sea salt.
Form a foil packet by taking a large (2 1/2 foot) sheet of wide aluminum foil and laying a correspondingly long sheet of parchment paper on top of it. Fold the sheet in half and crimp the sides of the sheet together deeply enough to form a lined aluminum foil packet with only one opening (at the top). Make two of these.
Put half of the bowl's contents in each bag and seal the top well by crimping tightly. Place on a baking sheet and put it into the oven in the center rack for 17 minutes. The packet should inflate as the steam cooks the seafood.
Meanwhile, toast your French/Italian bread and rub the slices with the cut clove of garlic. Place one slice in the bottom of the bowls you will eat from.
Cut open the packet carefully and let the juices and shellfish drain into the first serving bowl. Repeat with the second packet and the second bowl.
Drizzle additional olive oil on top, and serve with lemon wedge. Make sure you and your companion have napkins and a big bowl for shells. It's messy.