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Vietnamese style lemon grass cockles

Lemongrass cockles prepared in the Vietnamese way

 

Inspiration for this next dish came from a Hanoi food experience one year

 

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Visiting just before Christmas with my family, and my mate and his son from the UK, we explored Hanoi hard from a food perspective – no stone left unturned.

I mean, come on - look at this place. Local local local. Hustle and bustle. People and food everywhere - I'm in heaven!
I mean, come on – look at this place. Local local local. Hustle and bustle. People and food everywhere – I’m in heaven!

I had read about this place prior to the trip and was determined to go experience it. You should too. It’s a local place that happened to be just walking distance from our hotel. The great thing about this place was that it was a series of food stations surrounding an open courtyard. But unlike Singaporean food courts, you actually had waiting staff taking your order – but that order could be from 8 or so different food stations. It was fantastic, it really was. And one of the dishes was made with cockles.

The original dish in the restaurant, lemon grass cockles
The original dish in the restaurant, lemon grass cockles

That very dish gave me inspiration to create my own version.

So simple, but very impressive and really very tasty. You’ll need for 4:

  • A tray of cockles from the supermarket (in fact any shell fish, so mussels, clams etc all will do);
  • 3 stalks of lemon grass finely sliced;
  • 3 garlic cloves finely sliced;
  • 2 chili padi sliced thinly;
  • Half a glass of white wine; and
  • 1 yam basket if you can find one. If you can’t a yam basket this would be really nice with spaghetti as well I am certain.

In a fairly big pot add white wine, chilies, garlic and lemon grass and heat until the strong wine smell has gone.

Add in the cockles shaking continually until the cockles open, which should be no more than 5 minutes. Discard those that do not open, as we don’t want our guests with the runs do we!

On a plate add the yam basket, that you have baked for about 10 minutes from frozen in a 200 degree oven. Spoon in some of the cockles and arrange around the edge as I have done. It looks amazing and it tastes the same.

As another nice little “spin” to this recipe, rip and throw in some fresh basil leaves when the clams have finished cooking. Gives some additional flavor and also a nice colour contrast to the dish.

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