Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Spaghetti with bacon and cockles

Yesterday I went down to St Nicholas market to be interviewed about ‘Frugal’ by the Bristol Evening Post, an opportunity to do a bit of browsing at my favourite new food shop and café Taste@St Nicks. They were selling Penclawdd cockles from the Gower peninsula, a delicacy you don’t often come across. I remember having them deep-fried when we were there earlier this year and they were fantastic. And at £1.80 a 100g (all you need for two) they’re a thrifty buy.

This time I thought I’d use them in a simple spaghetti sauce, a bit like a Welsh spaghetti alla vongole with bacon. And Thai fish sauce which sounds weird but just accentuates the fishiness of anything you add it to. Here’s how to do it:

Serves 2
2 tbsp olive oil + extra for drizzling
3 rashers of streaky bacon, rinded and finely chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
1/2 a small glass of dry white wine or water (about 75ml)
1/2 tsp of Thai fish sauce (slightly more if you use water)
100g cockles (if you can’t get fresh ones you could use a jar, though drain and rinse them before you add them to the sauce)
200g spaghetti
A small handful of parsley, finely chopped
Ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a frying pan over a moderate heat and add the bacon. Cook for a minute until the fat starts to run then add the onion, stir, turn the heat down and cook for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft and beginning to brown. Stir in the crushed garlic, cook for a minute then turn the heat up a bit and add the white wine and fish sauce. Bubble up for a minute then take the pan off the heat, tip in the cockles and set aside. Cook the spaghetti in boiling water for the time recommended on the pack. Spoon off 2-3 tbsp of the cooking water into the bacon and cockles then drain the spaghetti. Return to the pan, heat through the sauce, tip it over the spaghetti along with most of the parsley and toss together. Divide the spaghetti between two warm shallow bowls, drizzle over a little olive oil, add a few grinds of pepper and sprinkle with a little more parsley.


Signe said...

This sounds so delicious, if I can find cockles today I'm going to make this dish! Love the idea of spaghetti alla vongole with bacon...

notSupermum said...

I love cockles, but I would never have thought of using them in this way - will have to give it a try!

Fiona Beckett said...

Glad you both like it! It's sometimes nice to have pasta without tomatoes or cheese. Cockles are definitely underrated! A great addition to a fish stew too.

Greenlady said...

Cockles and bacon is a lovely classic combination. What a nice idea to have them with pasta ! Not sure that the jarred cockles would work though ( thinking of the intense vinegariness )

Good that you got them sourced from the Gower. Last time I ate cockles was in Wales and they were Gower ones too. Must admit I got put off for years after the Morecambe Bay cockling disaster :( That was just so tragic.

Fiona Beckett said...

should have said that I would drain and rinse them if bottled. Will amend recipe - thanks for the thought!

Anonymous said...


Just made this recipe and all i can say is wow.. it was delicious, found your recipe by accident the other day, so glad i did.. Is this your own recipe?

Anonymous said...

This was yummy, i whacked some mushrooms in there too which worked quite well- upped the veg content!
And my lack of white wine wasn't too much of a problem because the vinegar from the cockles (which were rinsed) kind of added that sort of flavour...