Cockle Tempura

Cockle tempura
Inspired the original and utterly wonderful cockled popcorn on a recent visit to No 1 Cromer, I decided to try recreating it at home with successful results! I can’t justify stealing No 1 Cromer’s fabulous name, though, so renamed it the rather more prosaic cockle tempura. If you’re ever in Cromer, visit No 1 Cromer; they make brilliant seafood dishes. I also had a particularly tasty crab salad.

I adapted a tempura recipe from http://glutenfreerecipebox.com/gluten-free-tempura. As the Gluten-free Recipe Box explains, the secret to good tempura is cold ingredients, hence the rather unusual start to the beginning of this recipe. Of course, you can simply plan ahead (which I didn’t) and put the flour and water in the fridge for an hour or so instead.

Serves 2-3

Ingredients

50g rice flour

30g cornflour

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

80 ml sparkling water

sunflower oil for deep-fat frying

200g cockles

Method

Mix the flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda together, and place in the freezer for 10 minutes, along the water.

When they’re cold, whisk them together. Heat 2 inches of oil in a saucepan to 190°C.

Add the cockles in batches to the batter, because it’s best not to crowd to the pan when you come to cook them (I divided them into three batches).

Mix well, then use a metal slotted spoon to remove them, placing them in a separate bowl (I found this helped me with the next stage).

Drop the battered cockles carefully in the hot oil using the metal slotted spoon, trying to separate them as they go in, otherwise they will clump together.

Fry for 30-60 seconds, then remove them using the slotted spoon and place them on a plate covered with a paper towel.

Tempura cockles

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Caldeirada de lulas (Portuguese squid stew)

Caldeirada de lulasI love Portuguese food, particularly seafood. My favourite dish is sardinhas assadas, preferably served at a rustic seaside bar with a cold Sagres or a glass of Vinho Verde.

I also love the various tiny artisan cheeses, fish pate, chewy sourdough and gorgeous salty olives that come before your starter in restaurants; watch this space for a Portuguese sardine pate recipe.

This summer I had some fantastic squid in both Spain and Portugal, including the relatively unusual albondigas de choco, another recipe that will be featured here sometime soon.

But for the time being, I’ve made a caldeirada de lulas, which I took to my monthly food club this weekend, with Portugal as its theme for September. The key to the delicious rich sauce is to cook the onions until they start to caramelise and to be generous with the wine. I try to get hold of cuttlefish for this recipe as it’s so much cheaper than squid.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 kg squid or cuttlefish, cleaned weight (ask your fishmonger to do this, as this is not a job for the squeamish!)

4 tbsp olive oil

3 onions, finely sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 peppers, sliced

2 small glasses of white wine, preferably Vinho Verde

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 bay leaves, preferably fresh

500g waxy potatoes, peeled and cut slices as thick as a £1 coin

½ tsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp fresh coriander, roughly chopped

1 tbsp sea salt

White crusty bread to serve

Method

Preheat the oven to 170ºC fan/325ºC/as mark 3.

Cut the squid or cuttlefish into thick slices of 2 cm by 5 cm.

Heat the oil in a large roomy pan.

Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes on a medium-low heat.

Stir in the peppers, leaving to cook for another 10 minutes, before adding the garlic, and cooking for a further 5 minutes.

Add the wine, tomatoes, bay leaf and potatoes, and bring to the boil.

Stir the squid in the stew.

Once it’s simmering, season to taste and then transfer the stew to a casserole dish and place, covered, in the oven for an hour.

Season, then sprinkle with coriander.

Portuguese squid stew

Salpicón de mariscos (Seafood salad)

Spanish seafood saladThis speedy seafood salad recipe is a perfect dish for a sunny day, as part of a tapas spread or a picnic with tortilla (check out my recipe here). It’s one of my favourite tapas on a baking hot summer’s day in Andalucía, with an ice-cold glass (or tubo) of cerveza.

It’s also a popular dish at our annual pop-up tapas bar, Cantina Festival, which will again be open during the Frome Festival in July at Frome’s Silk Mill.

I used to make salpicón de mariscos with freshly cooked squid, mussels and prawns but now for ease I use a pack of either fresh or frozen mixed seafood and it tastes just as good.

Serves 4-6 as a tapa

Ingredients

500g mixed seafood

half a sweet white onion or 3 spring onions, thinly sliced

1 green pepper, diced

250g cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp sherry or white wine vinegar

Salt to taste

Method

Simply mix all the ingredients and leave to marinade for a few hours in the fridge. Serve with some chunky slices of sourdough to mop up the delicious juices.

IMG_9840

Squid curry

Squid curry

My cookbook of the month or possibly even the year has got to be Rick Stein’s India. His recipes are easy to follow, deceptively simple and, bar the odd hard-to-find ingredient, feature readily available spices.

I’m a part of a global food supper club and in October we decided to celebrate Diwali with an Indian spread. I adapted Rick Stein’s divine squid curry; I can’t pretend to say I improved it because it was already pretty damn perfect but I did make it a bit cheaper to feed a crowd. I padded out the recommended 400g of squid with more onions and added red peppers (a favourite trinity of mine in a Spanish casserole dish; watch this space for the recipe!).

You could also use cuttlefish, which is a cheaper option than squid. Ask your fishmonger to clean the squid or cuttlefish for you or, at a push, you could use pre-prepared frozen squid.

Marinade

  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek powder
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 fresh green or red chillies, roughly chopped, seeds removed if preferred
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 50g creamed coconut, grated or chopped and dissolved in 50ml of boiling water

Curry

  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 red peppers, chopped into 8 pieces
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 4 cm ginger, grated and chopped
  • 2 fresh green or red chillies, finely sliced, seeds removed if preferred
  • 500g squid, cleaned and chopped into small chunks, tentacles left whole
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 100 ml water
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp soft brown sugar
  • coriander leaves and sliced red chilli to serve

Serves 6

For the marinade, grind the coriander, cumin and black mustard seeds in a spice mill or pestle and mortar.

Mix with the fenugreek powder, garlic, chillies and tumeric to make a paste with a stick blender, using a bit of water, then blend again with the creamed coconut.

Put the squid into a bowl and mix well with the marinade, leaving it covered for at least a few hours or preferably overnight in the fridge.

When you’re ready to make the curry, heat the oil and when hot, add the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the onions and peppers and fry until softened on a medium to low heat, about 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger and fresh chillies for a few minutes.

Then add the squid and marinade, along with the rest of the curry ingredients and cook gently for 7 minutes or so until the squid is just done.

Serve with the coriander leaves and sliced chilli on top.