My friends and colleagues Phil Lamb from Spring Bay Seafoods in Tasmania and director of CQ Foods Michael Canals passed this on to me.

It is simply more information to confirm our belief that if a mussel doesn’t open when cooked it’s still fine to eat. Up to 370 tonnes of perfectly good mussels are thrown away each year because of an idea about mussels that is dated and hasn’t been challenged until now. Try it for yourself and remember if a mussel if no good it will smell to high heaven (and beyond).

AMIA4102_Mussel Fact Sheet_V2_Interactive

With all the commerciality of this time of year with Valentine’s Day & fluffy toys & silver balloons (what are those things!). For me, this image above is something that represents love – an enduring love that has been through hellish moments and powerful joy but a love that is still going strong 51 years on.

These are my parent’s tea cups. Every morning after breakfast dad has his tea (always a good leaf tea in a lovely big pot)  in his black-and-white cup with ‘an eyedrop of milk’ and mum’s takes her floral teacup and has her’s black. Another cup is had in the evening after dinner, usually in front of the tv.

To me, this is something worth acknowleding about love: laughter, pleasure, conversation, hardship, respect, trust, frustration, conflict, anger, happiness, affection make up the totality of a long-term relationship and that’s the love that should be celebrated just as much as the young, excitable passionate love that is just as joyous but not nearly as formidable.

Happy Valentine’s Day


I was very recently contacted by a friend/colleague who told me about this article ‘Mussel Myth an open and shut case’ by Dr Karl Kruszelnicki and she then brought up the small piece I wrote for Epicure in The Age last year about mussels. If a mussel is shut it doesn’t mean you should toss it out because it’s off. A mussel is very clear about letting you know if it’s off (it will smell awful).

Peter Lillie from Bay Sea Farms has taken the article I wrote and is putting it up at his stall where he sells at the Mt Eliza Farmers Market and the Pier at Mt Martha as he has been giving product away to make up for people’s ‘bad ones’.

Mussels are a sustainable, delicious and easy-to-cook choice (very reasonably priced too), so consider the mussel whether they’re open…or shut.

Here is the passage about Mussels from the Season’s Bounty column in Epicure The Age from last year.


From a sustainability perspective mussels are a great choice; the methods used to farm them have little environmental impact, they are filter feeders so take their nutrients from the water in which they’re grown and they are very affordable. The major fallacy about mussels is that if they don’t open they are dead or bad and have to be tossed out. This isn’t true. If a mussel is bad it’s going to smell, really bad. When cooking, mussels thrive in a big pot with liquid that will highlight the meat rather than overwhelm it. Classic combinations of garlic, white onion and white wine finished with fresh parsley are simply a matter of placing the onion and garlic in the bottom of the pan with some olive oil, putting in the mussels, then a cup of the wine, covering with a lid and leaving for three minutes. Other flavours and liquids to cook mussels in include lager, orange juice and coriander; lime juice, chilli and vietnamese mint or coconut milk, thai basil, chicken stock and chilli.

Hilary McNevin

When I wrote Guide to Fish, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) very kindly gave me permission to use their research on the fish species I chose to put in the book.

The AMCS have just released an new version of their sustainable seafood guide. A smart, litte book to take to the market that lists fish alpabetically and talks about the fish to avoid, the ones to eat occasionally and the better choices.

They’ve also, thoughtfully, put the guide up on line.

Click here to view the guide online

Click here to have a look around the AMCS online shop

My sister and I sat next to each other at a family barbecue recently in Queensland.

We get on well.

We were eating barbecued beef sirloin, charred on the outside, both medium-rare with horseradish, mustard and salads of vibrant greens; white beans with lemon and parsley, and blistered cherry tomatoes on the side.

We got talking beef and shopping for meat at the butcher shop:

Me: How’s your butcher here?

Sis: Great overall.

Me: what do you mean overall? Is he helpful when you ask questions?

Sis: Well, yes…I ask for a cut of meat and he gives it to me and has given me cooking tips.

I wasn’t sure how much to get for everyone coming tonight and he was helpful. Is that what you mean?

Me: So how about grain and grass fed, how long it’s aged, that kind of thing…I’m curious…

Sis: I never talk to him about things like that.

Me: But you buy meat from him?

Sis: yes, but he just gives me … meat

Me: So, how about if you have a dinner party. Just you and your husband, and two best mates for a special occasion – would you let him give you just what he gives you then?

Sis: Well…I don’t know…I guess so…

Me: A really simple way of looking at it is that grass fed will be more expensive and I think, great for special occasions. So, for your special dinner party ask for grass-fed beef – it’s flavour is spectacular, yep, it’ll cost more but you don’t need that much.

For a night like tonight, with about 15 of us, grain-fed is good. It’s more about texture than flavour. It certainly tastes good but with grain-fed beef you’re going to get a more tender, textural mouthfeel. Grass-fed is robust and earthy

Sis: God you talk alot but I’d never thought of it like that – thanks.

We’re keeping the conversation going about sustainable food choices and sustainable seafood choices.

It all comes down to the consumer – yep – we got the power!

In this video I talk with James Andronis from Clamms about sustainable fish from the wholesalers perspective and then we go and visit Mr Paul Wilson, Director of Food at the Albert Park Hotel here in Melbourne and he cooks up some lovely dishes for us.

Click here to take a look

I’m posting this recipe that I spoke about on Radio Marinara on 3RRR yesterday because there have been lots of requests for it – so to save time and to be very un-bloggy – I’m putting up a recipe without pics.

I’ve made this a few times but have  never snapped it – so – use your imagination, follow the steps – it’s easy and delicious and the whole fish looks so bounteous and stunning on the plate, your sense of achievement could well be palpable.

Salt-Baked Blue-eye Trevalla

1.5 – 2kg blue eye trevalla, scaled, cleaned and gutted.

6 cups sea salt plus 1 extra cup

6 egg whites

(Hil’s tip: use the egg yolks to make a mayonnaise to accompany the fish)

1 lemon, sliced into rounds

small sprig of rosemary, just 6 strands of rosemary will do – it can overpower so easily but adds just the right depth if used sparingly

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped.

Heat oven to 200C

Trace a rough outline of the whole fish on a piece of parchment paper, and cut it out.

in a mixing bowl combine 6 cups of salt and the egg whites with a spoon and mix it well. The mixture should feel like wet sand in your hands; heavy and moist.

Place the parsley, rosemary, garlic and lemon in the cavity of the fish. Spread the remaining salt over the base of a baking tray and place the cut-out parchment paper on the salt, then place the fish on top.

Use your hands to cover the whole fish with the salt and egg white mixture pressing down onto the fish to pack it tightly. It’s a large fish and will need most of the mixture but it’s okay if there’s some left over. The key here is to have an even coating over the fish – I find if you work from the head of the fish down towards the tail keeping an eye on consistent thickness of the crust you’ll be fine and so will the final result.

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, without turning or touching, until the salt crust is hard and golden brown.

Crack the salt crust w the handle of a knife and peel it away. Use a spoon to break the flesh away along the top side – it will have begun to pull away from the bone.

Serve it with a side of homemade lemon mayonnaise, silverbeet sauteed in garlic, grilled fennel and lots of boiled potato chunks.

I’ll get the pics up next time I make it.