Saturday, February 03, 2007

Arctic Winter Harvest

Mussels for supper tomorrow! Fresh mussels for supper tomorrow!!

Those of you who thought the moon module on the right is because I shape-shift into a polar bear every full moon - I want to tell you it has another purpose as well. The moon phase affects the tides, and the extent of the low tide affects the degree which mussels are exposed from their watery blanket. And now we have a full moon.

My wife just got back with a bucket from up the bay. There is an area there which almost never freezes over in winter, and for those willing to brave the cold you can go with a long rake and see what you can drag up. This mini polynya is caused by the combined effect of shallow water and tides, which go in and out do so with such speed that the water virtually never freezes over. I can only remember one winter in the past twenty where the hole closed up completely.

It is quite safe to go out on the ice at this time of year. I've even driven the truck over about 4 kilometres of landfast sea ice to get there. But I am not brave enough to pick mussels like they do in Kangiqsujuaq, about 130 kms east of here, where they crawl under the ice through holes created by the shifting tides. There's not enough money in the world to get me to do that. I've never heard of of anyone getting trapped or crushed, but I'm sure I'd be the first one.

But I do like mussels, especially steamed with a bit of garlic and bay leaf in the water. Since mussels are small and somewhat fidgety to eat, I find their consumption becomes almost as compulsive as eating pistachio nuts. I think the harder you have to work at eating your food, the more you get engrossed in the process.

However, unlike a lot of people up here who just dig right in, I prefer to soak mine overnight in some salted water so these bi-valves spit out most of the grit on the inside.

We have been saving a 5 kg box of prawns given as a gift by Makivik Corporation to each household in town as a much-appreciated Christmas gift. I have some pre-proofed French bread, a couple of sticks of garlic butter but alas no wine (or anything else worth drinking). Rest assured the shells will be flying tomorrow night.


Blogger zhu666 said...

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5:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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10:37 AM  
Blogger The Wrath of Dawn said...

Lovely spam! Wonderful spam!

Mmmm. Mussels. Definitely soaked overnight, then served up with garlic butter.

11:28 AM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

February has an "R" in it - bad joujou for shellfish!! Better not take any chances - send all your mussels to me for thorough inspection.

5:10 PM  
Blogger nanuk said...

WoD - I've taken your advice and added word verification. I notice that the spammers go through proxy servers to leave their annoying crap. Hard to get your hands on these polluters.

Phos - little to no fear of shellfish contamination up here. The water is plus one celsius and there is no algae bloom. Actually, no algae to speak of - you can see down 20 - 30 feet with ease in a lot of places.

5:48 PM  
Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

Still, why take any chances. I better test them, don't want you getting sick, being so far form Doctors and all.

I like them steamed over a pot of dry white wine, garlic and butter...

8:52 PM  
Blogger Fuff said...

Cor. We had mussels last night. Shallots, garlic, butter, white wine and parsley and finished with double cream. Was so delicious I ate more bread to soak the sauce up than I did mussles.
It's great fun whacking em when they open whilst cleaning them, to sea if they will close up again, erm lightly whacked i.e 'tapped', sorry.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Fuff said...

Don't soak the little gits in tap water though, it kills em.
Word verification, hmmmmmm. GRRRRRRRR!

9:30 PM  

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