Do you have an embarrasing food fetish? Something you more than love eating, but avoid telling anyone about. Or at least, blush when you do. Or worse, deny your love in public. Because of the faces they always pull. Because of their inevitable shudders of disgust.
Maybe it's a particularly stinky cheese. Or cold spam straight from the tin. Or a really awkward bit of an animal's face. <Insert your embarrasing food fetish here>
So. Here goes. Mine is blood cockles. With a sauce made of dark soya sauce, red chillies, garlic, sugar and lime juice.
With vaguely polite company -- already special friends who cackle over cockles with me -- the blood cockles are blanched in boiling water for 10-30 seconds (depending on how conservative they're feeling that day about raw cockles). They are then shelled, and then said polite company dip the cockles said sauce before sucking them down.
Then the polite company goes home.
Out comes the secret stash of cockles. Well. Leftovers, really. But it's more scintillating to call it the secret stash.
These get splashed a bit with hot water then put into a tub. The black salty sweet sour spicy pungent hemlock is then poured all over the cockles. The tub is then left in the fridge overnight, and yours truly struggles with a fitful sleep, chomping at the bit for brunch.
And finally. Brunchtime arrives. Behold the hemlock-steeped cockles.
A bowl of plain rice congee is doled out. I shell the cockles quickly, one after the other, and keep chucking them into the bowl until the snow-white congee is smothered with chilled briny earthy maroon cockles, shards of chili and garlic, and multi-directional trickles of sweet salty sour black blood.
I know it's not pretty. But the gut wants what the gut wants.
First things first: Always buy cockles from a fishmonger you know and trust. Soak and agitate in a basin of tap water 2-3 times, until the water stays clear.
Recipe for Black "Hemlock"
No exact proportions. Combine these ingredients below, keep tasting till you like it, and make sure it will cover about 1/3 to 1/2 of the tub of cockles.
Dark soya sauce
Red chillies, finely chopped, seeds left in
Garlic, roughly chopped
Pinch of sugar
Recipe for Plain White Congee
- Use 10-12 cups of water for every 1 cup of white rice
- Place rice and water in a pot on the stove, and bring the water to a boil
- Reduce stove heat to a low simmer
- Cook for another 20 minutes, then check if the rice has reached a consistency you like. If it's not soft enough, cook for another 10 minutes and check again
- IMPORTANT! Do not stir the pot, as this will release the starch from the rice. This starch will settle at the bottom of the pot and burn