Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Silver bells and cockle shells

Last Saturday I went to our weekly outdoor market to find some shellfish. Specifically, I wanted some lavagnons and coques (cockles) to make linguini with white clam sauce. We're lucky to have a fish monger who comes in every week from the coast near the Marennes-Oléron area, about 300 kilometers (185 miles) west of Saint-Aignan.

Lavagnons (flat, gray shells) and cockles (ridged, beige shells) steaming in white wine.

The lavagnons are a local clam, very delicate in texture and flavor, and the coques are a little bigger and meatier. I thought that mixing them would be good for this dish, and it was. First, though, the mollusks had to be purged. Ken mixed up some water with sea salt and added about a tablespoon of semolina (cornmeal works as well). The shellfish sit in the water and begin filtering; any sand in their digestive systems is ejected while they ingest the semolina or cornmeal. After an hour or two, they're ready to cook.

The finished dish -- a nice change from the Christmas turkey. Dig in!

We steamed the shellfish in white wine with onion and garlic and some red pepper flakes. Once the shells had opened, we added cooked linguini and finished the dish off with chopped fresh parsley. What a feast!

9 comments:

  1. indeed! happy 2015 to all at your house!

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  2. I love the look and the taste of these tiny tidbits. But, oh the work involved (for me) in eating them. It's like cooking!

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  3. Wow. That dish looks great! You are lucky to be able to source fresh seafood so far inland.

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  4. Have a great New Year's Eve. Gosia from Poland

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  5. Looks devine! Happy New Year's Eve!

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  6. Fabulous!
    Happy New Year celebration, and may 2015 be great for you!

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  7. Yet another valuable lesson! I didn't know about purging clams and cockles. It looks fabulous! Bonne Année à tout le monde

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  8. Oh yum! Brings back happy memories of Ile d'Oleron. Happy New Year to you, Ken, Callie, and Bertie!

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  9. Oh, my, that looks good! Happy New Year!

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