Valencia´s Clotxinas are back in Season!


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Following the launch of the Clotxina last week, Valencia´s regional  variety of the bivalve has been widely available in the markets and fish shops as well as the plate to eat in Valencia´s restaurants.

The Mediterranean mussel, Mytilus Galloprovincialis, is incredibly popular here being generally accepted as the superior version of the family. Its concentrated flavour makes it good not just for eating in the traditional manner ( al vapor ) but is added to seafood paellas.

Boramar

Boramar

Each year at the beginning of the season the `Agrupación  de Clochineros de Valencia y Sagunto´ hold a presentation (or launch)  of the variety. This is held on the catamaran `Boramar´ in the harbour of Valencia´s port. It is attended not just by the press but enjoys support at Government level and the Autonomous Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Water, Alfredo González Prieto was present to add official  presence to the event. The brief opening ceremony commenced as soon as the dignitaries arrived on board for the formal welcome by Chema Ferrer, MC and  journalist with Las Provincias newspaper as well as the President of the fisherman’s association, Juan Aragonés.

Alfredo Prieto, Chema Ferrer and

Alfredo Prieto, Chema Ferrer and Juan Aragones.

It is followed by a trip around the harbour and this years event, in a strong Spring sunshine with gentle breezes,  was sponsored by Turia Cervezas, one of the local artisan breweries, Bodegas Mustiguillo with its superb fresh dry white wine Mestizaje (from Merseguera, Viognier and Malvasia) and the Valencian firm of Castro and Gonzalez who provided a superb reserve jamon from Iberian pigs fed on acorns, the best!

Jamon Iberico de Bellota, Castro y Gonzalez.

Jamon Iberico de Bellota, Castro y Gonzalez.

The production of the mussel is very traditional , some twenty-two  former barges ( or bateas) being used as a base from which the bi-valves hang in the waters of the outer harbour, where they feed on the fresh, but rich, and salty waters of the mediterranean. The season does not end in September rather this being the start of the agricultural period  with the selection of the baby mussels (or seeds) which are attached to the ropes on which they will grow. Each batea has some 400 ropes which will be heavily laden with mussels by the start of the `cooking season´. It is believed that the mussel will filter some 60 litres of sea water each day and part of the process is to lift the ropes from the water and expose them to the sunlight occasionally. This is one way to kill off some of the many pests which are attracted to mussels whilst they are growing.

 `Batea´ in the outer harbour.

`Batea´ in the outer harbour.

Apart from the superb flavour of this variety of the species, one might wonder why it attracts such important support. In fact the Clotxina is a very big part of Valencia´s industry, keeping an incredible 120,000 people in work in  agriculture and tourism as well as countless restaurants during the summer season…it is a variety which is only eaten during the months when there is no `R´ in the month. Nor is the claim that  the quality of this variety is superior  an idle Valencian boast. No less that the University Politecnica discovered they were richer than their atlantic cousins in vitamins, iron, calcium , phosphorous, magnesium, folic acid and omega-3! At about 60 calories per 100gm they are a healthy non-fattening option on the menus of Valencian Restaurants and homes.

Mestizaje Blanco, merseguera,

Mestizaje Blanco, merseguera,

The production is traditional, at least as far back as the 19th century. The anchored bateas have been covered to provide shelter from the sun for those working aboard and are owned by families who have been involved in the industry for generations and whose shops are still to be found in the Cabanyal and Grau districts of Valencias port district. Queues are not unusual at weekends as Valencian families will make their pilgrimage to their favourite outlets.

Cruise Ships in the Harbour.

Cruise Ships in the Harbour.

And when they get them home what do they do with them? Nothing for 2-3 days! They are best left in the fridge covered with a towel in a box .

Then they will be cooked in the following manner, `Al Vapor´.

Turia Mazen, Artisan Beer.

Turia Mazen, Artisan Beer.

Taking about 250gm per head, you will also need ground black pepper, a bay leaf, a lemon and virgin olive oil.

The clotxinas are then washed well under the tap to clear any impurities. Once cleaned they are placed in a terracotta dish, with a dash of olive oil , a pinch of the pepper the bay leaf and the juice of a lemon.

Once they begin to heat through they cook in their own juices and once these have come  to the boil you leave them for a few moments to concentrate and for the last few to open then remove them from the heat.

Serving is very simple. They are placed in bowls with their own juices and decorated with slices of fresh lemon.

Clotxinas `Al Vapor´.

Clotxinas `Al Vapor´.

They are a real joy and at approximately 3.50€ a kilo this season very good value for money. Their rich flavour, meaty texture and the juices can be mopped up with fresh bread!

Once the season is over there is no choice but to eat `mejillones´, or the lesser quality mussels for the rest of the year. Small wonder that during the summer those in the know eat the regional variety!

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