Razorfish

 

Razor fish are a shellfish, or a marine bivalve mollusc to be correct, that live in the sand and mud flats in tidal areas in Southern Australia. They are a large, fan shaped shellfish that lay buried in the sand point first. This leaves the large curved edge of the shell exposed. This edge is quite sharp and has been responsible for many cuts and scrapes of those collecting the shells. Hence the name.

Razor fish are usually found in large groups over a small area, although in lightly fished areas, these groups can be close together forming large beds. A decade ago, razor fish could be found in numbers right along metropolitan coasts (in suitable habitat) as they were used by only a few fisherman as bait. Now, however, some areas are totally devoid of them now and this is due to the fact that their potential as an extremely tasty seafood dish has been realized.

In South Australia, the current bag limit is 25 per person per day. It doesn't sound like much, but they are large shells and it is quite labor intensive collecting them. The shells are fairly well embedded, so it is necessary to bend over, grab the shell and wiggle it from side to side, all the while pulling up. There are razor fish tongs available now which makes gripping the shells much easier.

Across southern Australia, tidal flats are the places to look. At low tide, the tops of the shells will often be visible. The further from civilization you are then the easier they will be to locate.

Once you have collected enough shells, they have to be cracked open and the white "heart" of the fish removed. This is also hard work. The easiest method is to break each shell with a rock then slip a thin but sturdy knife blade under the shell, keeping it as close to the underside of the shell as possible. If you are doing this correctly, the remains of the shell will open up easily. The insides surrounding the "heart" can then be removed which will leave just the white muscle still attached to one side of the shell. Use the knife to cut it away from the shell. You should have a roughly round piece of white flesh. Depending on the size of the razor fish, this should be about 5 cm or 2 inches across. Rather than increase in diameter the "heart" seems to increase in thickness as the shells grow.

Eaten raw, shallow fried, deep fried or grilled, this flesh is superb. Like scallops only tastier, razor fish, in my opinion, are at least rivals to prawns and calamari. The flesh is firm and white and, if cooked correctly, is tender. (If cooked too long it tends to become rubbery, like calamari). When deep frying, it is necessary to cook for only about 30 seconds.

A few years ago few would have contemplated eating razor fish. Now though, their value as a culinary dish has been realised and very few would pass up the opportunity to dine on this delicious shellfish.