Tuesday, November 15, 2011

steamed cockles with habanero chive broth

I could almost say this was an easy one. I mean, it's steamed shellfish. How hard is that?

Here's the thing: cockles are little clams. They're kinda cute. But they grow in New Zealand. Technically, right off New Zealand, but you know what I mean. I live in Florida. In Florida, we have clams growing right off the shores. So we get those. Cockles, not so much. I was ready to unapologetically make this dish with Florida clams.

But I've had clams in a few dishes in this project. So I wanted to at least try to get cockles. When I was planning a trip to DC, I figured that was a good time to try. Big city, they probably get all sorts of seafood in from all over the world, right? And this wasn't a complicated cooking procedure, so I felt confident that if I found them, I could cook them there without trying to bring them home.

I was sort of right.

I found them almost immediately. My pal Carol told me to try Black Salt, which is where she gets a lot of her seafood. I called them, they said they had it, told me the price. But then I ran into a problem I never have in Florida. I couldn't really get there.

It was only a few miles from where we were staying, but we had no access to a car that day. And the Metro in DC didn't go there. And there would be multiple bus transfers. So my pal Melanie set to work looking for an alternative that we could actually get to. She found a place in Bethesda, Md., A&H Market, that was actually farther away than Black Salt, but it was near a Metro stop. Turns out it wasn't really as near a Metro stop as they said, but after a half-hour or so on the train we were there. They had cockles, and we were in business.

Other key ingredients:
Habanero. They are right there in the title. So they must be important. My colleague Chris  had given me a bag full of habaneros from his garden, so knowing I was going to try to make this dish, I brought them with us. I put them in checked luggage. I doubt you can carry on habaneros.
Basic tomato sauce. Sure, I have a freezer full of officially sanctioned sauce at home. But I wasn't at home. And I didn't really feel like bringing tomato sauce with me on the trip. Luckily, Jeremy had this in the kitchen:

That works, right?

From there, it was all just steaming them open and dressing it up with some chives.

The broth was super wine-y, which is good. And the cockles were tender and sweet. And there was a kick from the habanero, but it was subtle.

I bet this dish would be awesome with Florida clams.

Note: We had this dish when we were at Babbo in the spring. And they have the recipe on the website.

Up next:
pork tenderloin with jerusalem artichokes.

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