Saturday, 9 February 2008

Perks Of The Job #2: Berberechos Con Amaretto Y Arroz De Coco

Don't worry, I haven't been looting from work. Promise!

You see - as I explained back in November when I wrote about the pleasure of working with foodies - at Comerç 24 we really hate to throw anything away or (even more sinfully) not make the most out of what we have. For the guy at the top it's money down the drain, but for the people on the front line who are passionate about food and work with it every day it's much more than that - it's a missed opportunity to create something new.
From my favourite bedtime reading many years ago
Putting spare oysters to good use (click for more)

Berberechos, otherwise known as cockles or cockle clams
We use these berberechos in our version of Yakisoba, a dish we've taken quite a distance from its traditional Sino-Japanese roots. Besides the basic 'stir fry' element of the dish, our version also contains razor clams, a julienne of nori and mandarin segments that we caramelise a la plancha. A few Saturday nights back, a slight misjudgement in food ordering meant that Cynthia was still left with half a bag of cockles when service had finished. They weren't exactly on their last legs like the poor oysters above, but we're a very strict kitchen and wouldn't have dreamt of using them come Tuesday lunchtime.

I'm a big fan of cockles and so when these babies were raffled off I was quick to pounce as I knew exactly what I was going to do with them. Way back in December 2006 I wrote about the virtues of cooking shellfish with Amaretto, a post that was recently read and appreciated by a certain self-confessed Amaretto addict. Well, Helen of Food Stories will be glad to know that I've been at it again - albeit this time with a slightly more refined approach.

I started by melting a knob of butter in a pan to which I added some short grain rice (which by the way is by far the most commonly used rice here in Catalunya). I lightly fried the rice for ten or twenty seconds and then added some salt and a whole can of coconut milk. The idea behind this was along the lines of making a coconut "rice pudding", the texture and creaminess of which would complement the salty-sweet combination of cockles and Amaretto.
If you've never cooked with Amaretto, give it a try

Cooking the cockles in butter and Amaretto
While I waited for the rice I checked the cockles to make sure they were all still alive. To do this, you use exactly the same method you would employ for mussels or other bivalve molluscs. The procedure simply involves gently tapping the shells of any cockles that are slightly open and making sure that they quickly close up again. If you see no reaction it means the cockle is already dead and should be discarded. If you've ever eaten a bad cockle, or worse still a bad oyster, you'll understand the importance of this.

OK - so once the rice was bubbling away and only a few minutes from being ready I took another pan in which I melted an even bigger knob of butter. In went the cockles, followed by a quick shake around and then a generous glug of the Amaretto. I put the lid on and steamed for three or four minutes until the shells had all opened, taking care not to over-cook them. I then removed the cockles from the pan and quickly reduced down the small remaining quantity of Amaretto into a syrup-like sauce to drizzle around.
A light coconut "rice puddding"

Bob's your uncle - a dish that not only saves perfectly good seafood from a sad and unproductive future but also satisfies the cravings of sweet-toothed carpenters, walruses and bloggers everywhere.
Berberechos con Amaretto y arroz de coco - delicious!


Helen said...

You are right Trig, I am very glad to know! And I should let you know that I tried your previous idea of flambeing the seafood in Amaretto and But I won't go on now, I'll post about it soon. This does look more refined you're right! I love cockles too, are you sure you're not reading my mind or something? I love cockles so much in fact that my boyfriend wrote a song about them for me! (don't ask...)

ros said...

What an interesting idea. I'm a big amaretto fan and I can imagine the appeal of using it with shellfish although i missed your earlier post on the subject.

I tried to make a coconut milk risotto not long ago. It was a way to get rid of some left over roasted chicken and I threw in most of the ingredients of a thai green curry. It tasted good but, rather like the curry, ended up an odd pale green colour which didn't look very visually appealing which is why I never blogged it.

Trig said...

Helen - glad you liked the seafood flambée. The secrets are evaporating all excess water from the mix before flambéeing and deglazing with cream before Maillard turns to burning.

Ros - if you added green chilli and chopped coriander to a risotto, it's not surprising that it turned out green. I wouldn't have worried though - it will have tasted good and you should have blogged it.

Peter M said...

Hi Trig, I'm here via Helen's site and I'm echoing her glee in using Amaretto.

I'm intrigued now to try in with seafood and I'll be coming back for a closer look at your blog.


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