With the ninth longest coastline in the world, it’s no surprise that there’s an abundance of shellfish in New Zealand, and even less of a surprise that they’re a staple of Kiwi cuisine. And to get your hands on some of them, you’ll need to dance.
Over 3,660 shellfish species live in New Zealand waters. Some of them are so delicious that they often don’t actually make it out of the country. Here are some of the most iconic endemic shellfish that appear on Kiwi plates.
New Zealand Greenshell Mussels are one of the world’s most environmentally friendly protein sources. They’re farmed with just seawater and a hefty dose of Kiwi ingenuity – that’s what makes them New Zealand’s second most valuable exported seafood species, with their biggest fans being in the US. With their succulent, sweet and tender meat they’re a match made in heaven when cooked with a Sauvignon Blanc cream sauce. Hungry?
These little guys are found on all three of the main New Zealand islands, buried in fine clean sand on ocean beaches. You’ll find them on the menu in some of New Zealand’s most vibrant eateries, but to get them yourself you’ll need to perform a little dance. By shuffling around and digging with your toes you might be lucky enough to find a patch, which you then grab with your hands before they bury themselves deeper. Then you can enjoy their delicate, sweet aroma of fresh kelp and toasted nori. Yum.
New Zealand restaurants go crazy in March. It’s when the boats come in from the cold clean and wild waters of the Foveaux Strait delivering a payload of delicious Bluff Oysters. Oyster season is celebrated with its own festival, and it’s not hard to see why. Once you’ve tasted the plump creamy meat paired with a rush of intense brininess, you’ll want to be on the Bluff wharf waiting to slurp a dozen down.
Best served frittered. Pāua, it’s the Māori word for New Zealand’s endemic blackfoot abalone, highly valued for its firm meaty flesh and savoury, sea flavour. They’re delicious off the barbecue and highly popular in a fritter from the local fish and chippery. Once shucked the Paua shell lives on forever, being used in jewellery and incorporated into traditional Māori carvings.
So, if you’re into raw, deep-fried, marinated, or grilled… we know a place.