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Vongole

Vongole

These bivalve molluscs have a white to light brown, almost oval shell (sometimes with darker zig-zag markings) with concentric ridges, containing white to yellow meat (sometimes with patches of purple).

Vongole
Vongole

They are found around the southern Australian coast (including Tasmania) and harvested from tidal flats and estuary mouths on sheltered or sandy subtidal sediment to depths of about 5m, from Fraser Island in Queensland to Cape Leeuwin in WA. The larger K.scalarina, with pale yellow shells, is tidal, while the smaller K.rhytiphora, with greyish-purple shells, is intertidal. Both the SA and Tasmanian fishery are increasing and there have been aquaculture trials in Port Stephens (NSW) with K.rhytiphora.

To Buy Vongole :

Sold live. Look for brightly coloured, intact, lustrous shells, that are closed or close when tapped or gently squeezed, and a pleasant fresh sea smell. Due to their sandy habitat they can contain a bit of grit, ask your fishmonger if they have been purged (stored in aerated saltwater for at least 24 hours to eliminate sand), if they haven’t been, see Purging Instructions.

To Store Vongole :

Vongole should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase. Place in a container, cover with a damp cloth and keep in the warmest part of the refrigerator, usually the crisper (optimum 5°C), ensuring that covering remains damp. Before cooking, discard any shells that are open and don’t close when tapped or gently squeezed (you may need to give them 10-20 minutes out of the fridge to warm up first). K.rhytiphora tends to keep better than K.scalarina. Freeze meat for up to 3 months below -18°C.

Vongole Nutritional Data
Vongole Nutritional Data

To Cook Vongole :

If shells haven’t been purged, place them in a solution of cool water and sea salt (30g salt to each litre of water) for several hours, or overnight, at room temperature (if you refrigerate them they’ll close up and won’t ‘spit out’ the sand). Average yield is 20-30%. They have a medium flavour, medium oiliness and moist, firm flesh. Remove from the heat as soon as they open, as they quickly shrivel and become chewy if over cooked. While traditional wisdom was to discard shells that don’t open when cooked, you can pry them open, away from the plate, and, if they smell good, eat them; if they’re bad, they’ll have a distinctly ‘off’ aroma.

Vongole Cooking Methods

Vongole goes well with :

Chilli, Coriander (Cilantro), Garlic, Parsley, Tomato, White Wine.

 

Vongole Substitutions

  • Blue Mussels – Sold live. Look for brightly coloured, firm, intact, lustrous shells that are closed or close when tapped or gently squeezed, and a pleasant fresh sea smell. Tiny crabs are sometimes found inside Mussels, they are harmless and do not indicate any problem with the mussel.
  • Pipis – Sold live. Look for brightly coloured, intact, lustrous shells, that are closed or close when tapped or gently squeezed, and a pleasant fresh sea smell. Due to their sandy habitat they can contain quite a bit of grit, ask your fishmonger if they have been purged (stored in aerated saltwater for at least 24 hours to eliminate sand), if they haven’t been, see purging instructions.
  • Strawberry Cockles (Notocallista kingie) – occasionally seen in retail shops or harvested recreationally in various parts of Australia
  • Surf Clams – Sold live. Look for brightly coloured, intact, lustrous shells, that are closed or close when tapped or gently squeezed, and a pleasant fresh sea smell. Due to their sandy habitat they can contain a bit of grit, ask your fishmonger if they have been purged (stored in aerated saltwater for at least 24 hours to eliminate sand), if they haven’t been, see purging instructions.

 


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