Cockles! That was the first thing on my mind that day when my wife asked me what we would be preparing for lunch. It has been quite a while since I cooked cockles mainly due to the bad reputation the press had been circulating about them.
I had actually waited for all the unpleasant news to subside before starting to cook cockles again. After all, no news is good news, they say. But that is just one part of the story. Since I can't eat cockles, I had to cook something else for myself.
To make things easier, I used the same ingredients to cook my fish, just like the ones I used to cook the cockles. One portion of blended paste, but divided into two.
- 500 g red snapper, cleaned
- 5 shallots, sliced
- 2 lemon grass, sliced
- 10 dried chilies, soaked
- 1/2 cm fresh turmeric
- 1 small piece galangal
- 1 tbs fish sauce
- 1 tbs oyster sauce
- 4 tbs vegetable oil
- 1 turmeric leaf, thinly sliced
- 2 kaffir limes
- Aluminum foil and banana leaves
In a food blender, whiz the shallots, lemon grass, chilies, turmeric and galangal to a smooth paste. Heat the oil in a wok and fry the thinly sliced turmeric leaf until crisp and dish out onto a piece of kitchen paper. Set aside. In the same oil, saute the blended ingredients until fragrant. Next, stir in the fish sauce and oyster sauce. Continue to simmer gently for about two minutes until sauce thickens. Dish out and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile preheat oven to 180 C. Place a piece of banana leave onto a piece of aluminum foil. Put a tablespoon of the spice paste in the center of the banana leaf and place the fish on top. Spoon more spice paste onto the fish and inside the cavity. Wrap the fish in the banana leaf and aluminum foil and bake for about 35 minutes. Right before serving, squeeze juice of half a kaffir lime (or more if you prefer it to be more sour) onto the fish. Garnish with the fried turmeric leaf.
Note : Oh, the cockles? I ended up with crabs because they didn't have cockles at the market that day :-)