Before i disappear with my family camping for a few days, i just want to share our dinner from last night.  We went foraging at Blueskin Bay (outside Dunedin), apart from breathtaking natural beauty.  Kai moana (seafood) is plentiful and delicious, as you can see Cockles or Clams as a lot of you may recognise them as, are plump, sweet and exciting.

Don't worry i do realise how fortunate we are to have them still freely available in our clean, untouched seas. God bless New Zealand!

Here is a simple, classic recipe to include cockles, i omitted the chilli in this dish as it was for the whole family.  But i highly advise adding the chilli as it  is not there solely there for heat, it actually adds a background depth to the dish.

serves 6

1 kg (at least) fresh cockles in shell
1 packet good quality dried spaghetti
handful flat leaf parsley
1 red chilli
2 lemons
extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
salt and freshly cracked black pepper
drop or two Thai fish sauce (optional)

Soak the cockles in fresh water with a little sprinkle of flour, and let sit for as long as possible,  this will allow the cockles to spit out any remaining sand.
Rinse well and remove any cockles that are open or broken.
Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to the boil.
Roughly chop the parsley, deseed the chilli and finely slice, zest one lemon and slice the garlic. Set aside.
Add the spaghetti to the boil water and stir briefly to separate, cook until
al dente (vital not to over cook the pasta), look on the packet for times.

Heat a large heavy based fry pan up with a generous amount of oil, add the garlic, and chilli, add the cockles, give the pan a bit of a shake.  Cover and cook until the cockles start to open (depending on size any where from 3 minutes to 5-7 minutes).  Add a good squeeze of lemon juice, a few drops of fish sauce if using and grind or two of cracked pepper.  Sprinkle over the chopped parsley. 

Drain the pasta and add to the cockles (if not enough room in pan, add back to the pasta pot), drizzle over some more olive oil and taste.  It should be fresh, slightly salty like the sea and enough liquid/ oil to coat the pasta.  Serve in a large dish on the table.  I made some Foccica bread to dunk into the juices left in the pan.  An absolutely unforgettable meal!

Cockles and Spaghetti

See you when i get back from Central Otago.  Bye!