This traditional Portuguese dish of seafood pasta is an excellent choice for lunch or dinner.
Clams, Cockles or Mussels?
In my seafood pasta, I particularly like the clams, very typical of Portuguese cooking, although these are hard to get hold of in the UK. If you can get them they are likely to be pretty expensive so substituting fresh cockles or mussels is fine.
Try thecornishfishmonger.co.uk for buying online.
If you like clams, try Clams à Bulhao Pato, simply cooked with lemon juice and coriander.
Occasionally, I have collected my own cockles, but there are no longer any safe locations on the south or southeast UK coasts. Coastal areas like the Thames estuary round to Camber Sands are now considered too contaminated to allow shellfish to be eaten.
Cockles are filter feeders and accumulate toxins from their food. This can be from contaminated water or from seasonal warm weather algae blooms.
My local fishmongers Steve Hatt in Upper Street, Islington can get them for me if I give them a few days notice. I order them for the day I am going to use them as they don’t store for long.
Always remember the rules of cooking and eating fresh shellfish, especially if you collect your own from the shore:
- Shellfish are at their best when there is an ‘R’ in the month, because of spawning times and algae.
- When buying they should smell of the sea and not fishy.
- Purge them of sand and grit inside by soaking them in heavily salted water, 1 part salt to 3 parts water preferably overnight in the fridge.
- Remove any barnacles on the shells and and beards from mussels.
- Discard any shells that are open before cooking unless a sharp tap makes them close. Shellfish are only safe to eat if alive when cooked.
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Recipe – Seafood Pasta
Whichever shellfish you decide to use, this seafood pasta is a lovely meal. Make sure you serve it with some fesh crusty bread to soak up all the juices in the bowl.
Seafood Pasta (Portuguese style)
- 400 g prawns
- 500 g clams
- 150 g crab sticks
- 1 medium onion
- 1 small onion to cook the shrimp
- 2 cloves garlic
- coriander to taste
- 3 medium ripe tomatoes
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 200 g penne pasta
- 75 ml white wine
- 1 tsp paprika
- 50 ml olive oil
- salt to taste
- Wash the clams under running water and set aside.
- Put the shrimp in a saucepan with water seasoned with some salt and a small onion. Bring to a boil over high heat. When starts boiling, reduce to low heat and cook for 6 to 7 minutes. When the shrimp is cooked, drain it with a skimmer and let cool. Peel the shrimp and set aside.
- Put the olive oil, the chopped onion and the chopped garlic in a saucepan and cook over low heat until the onion start to turn slightly golden. Add the peeled tomato cut into small pieces and cook until the tomato start to break down, stirring occasionally. Then, pour the white wine and cook for 5 minutes. Add the pasta, the clams and season with some salt, pepper and paprika. Stir, pour the water (enough water to completely cover the mixture) and boil over medium-high heat. When starts boiling, reduce to low heat and cook about 10 minutes.
- When the pasta is almost cooked and the clams start to open, add the crab sticks cut into pieces and the shrimp. Stir and cook for more 3 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat, sprinkle with chopped coriander and serve.
Try one of these recipes from my cookbook …