I love to eat cockles the old-fashioned way, by boiling them and enjoying them with spicy sambal belacan.
Prising them open can be a tedious task, though. But there is a more convenient way to enjoy them. You can get raw shucked cockles on the half shell. They are sold frozen, but taste fresh once you are done defrosting and cooking them.
Dousing them in Shaoxing wine, followed by a spicy garlic dressing, makes this humble shellfish a touch fancier and tastier. Adjust the amount of garlic and chilli to suit your preference. Instead of using salt, use some light soya sauce and a pinch of sugar for sweetness.
Steaming the cockles for one minute leaves them slightly bloody. If you like them a little more cooked, I suggest switching off the fire after a minute, but leaving them in the steamer to cook in the residual heat for 20 seconds.
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500g raw cockles on half shell
4 Tbs Shaoxing wine
40ml cooking oil
30g garlic cloves, chopped
30g shallots, chopped
3 chilli padi, finely minced
1 red finger chilli, minced
½ tsp salt
2 stalks of spring onion, finely sliced
1. Place the cockles in a heat-proof dish (photo 1).
2. Drizzle 2 Tbs of Shaoxing wine over the cockles. Steam for one minute.
3. Transfer the cockles to a clean serving dish, discarding the residual liquid from steaming. Set aside.
4. In a wok or pan, heat the oil on medium heat. Add the garlic, shallots, chilli padi and red finger chilli (photo 2).
5. Lower the heat and let the mixture cook for 30 seconds.
6. Add the rest of the Shaoxing wine and season with salt.
7. Add the spring onion and cook for another 10 seconds (photo 3).
8. Drizzle the garlic mixture over the steamed cockles. Serve immediately.
Serves two to three