While oysters, mussels and scallops receive their fair share of attention, there's a bevy of other shellfish, too, such as pippies, cockles and clams, which promise plenty of pleasure on the plate. These daintier varieties, along with mussels, should be purchased alive. You can check their condition by tapping any open shells - they should close immediately. They're sometimes sold sandless (that is, purged of sand), but if they're not, you'll need to purge them. Do this by soaking in salted cold water for about an hour. Discard any shells that don't open during cooking. While fresh scallops are available to restaurants, they're harder for home cooks to lay their hands on. Look for examples with plump flesh and always buy them fresh rather than frozen. If you can't find shellfish at your local market or fishmonger, give your local Chinatown a go.
- 2 kg cockles
- To serve: thinly sliced wholemeal bread
Drawn butter and garlic sauce
- 125 gm unsalted butter
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 pinch sweet smoked paprika
- 1 pinch ground cumin
- 1For drawn butter and garlic sauce, place butter in a saucepan and melt over low heat without boiling. Using a spoon, skim scum and discard, then pour clarified butter into a bowl, leaving behind milky solids. Return clarified butter to a clean saucepan, add garlic and sauté for 1 minute or until aromatic. Add lemon juice and spices and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- 2Bring 2cm of salted water to the boil in a large pan over high heat, add cockles, cover and cook for 2 minutes or until cockles open. Drain in a colander and divide among bowls. Serve cockles dipped in drawn butter and garlic sauce with wholemeal bread.
Drink Suggestion: White Spanish albariñho. Drink suggestion by Max Allen