AS HAPPY AS A CLAM
It’s veterinarian-day for me again, how about you? Whatever your day’s like, appetize it with this spicy, herby, briny and juicy cockle salad (you heard right), from one of Fatty Crab’s and Fatty Cue’s Zak Pelaccio. It tastes like the ocean with an attitude, certainly one of my favourite, and most interesting and delicious treatment of shellfish yet. And I promise it will kick-open your palette, get you ready for whatever that’s on your plate. Wish you a day as happy as a clam.
Serves: 4 as appetizer
Adapted from Zak Pelaccio’s Eat With Your Hands
I like to use an assortment of cockles and clams for this dish. In this case, tiny cockles for their meats plus larger/prettier clams for their shells. You can choose whatever variety you like. The original recipe does not include the kaffir lime leaf, but I added it because I think it gave the dish a sharper edge. Use if you have it available (they freeze really well in the freezer).
- 3 lbs assortment of cockles and clams
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup rice wine or white wine
- 2 ~ 3 small red Thai chili
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 lime leaf (if available), with the stem removed
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- 2 tsp light brown sugar
- 4 small Asian shallots, finely sliced
- 2 tbsp chopped mint leaves
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- Bring 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and 1/4 cup of rice wine (or white wine if you prefer) to a boil. Add the clams and cover the lid. Cook for 2 min, then remove the lid and start picking out clams as they open (clams open at different speed so this way, you can avoid over-cooking them). Once all the clams have opened, continue to simmer the liquid until it's reduced to 1/4 cup.
- Meanwhile, remove the clams from the shells (you should have about 1 cup of clam-meats). Keeping a few shells that are bigger and prettier.
- In a stone-mortar, mash the red chili, the garlics and lime leaf until paste-like. Add the lime juice, fish sauce, light brown sugar, finely sliced Asian shallots, chopped mint leaves, chopped cilantro and the clam-meats. Mix to combine.
- Scatter the preserved shells over the serving platter, then spoon the clams to fill the shells. Pour the reduced clam-juice over. Serve with extra lime.