Cockle Rice with Petinga/Arroz de Berbigão com Petinga

This dish combines two key flavours of Portuguese cooking: rice cooked in a light shellfish stock and crispy fried fish. This is a slight variation on the traditional seafood “running” rice using risotto to produce a rich and creamy finish. I didn’t call the dish itself “cockle risotto” as this does not follow the Italian technique for cooking risotto rice. The fried fish used here are small sardines (fishing these is forbidden in most countries) but any kind of small fry should work. The rice can also be served on its own as a main dish.


For the rice:

1 finely chopped onion
2 finely chopped cloves of garlic 500gr fresh cockles (i.e. alive)
2 bay leaves
2 cups of risotto rice large bunch of coriander finely chopped
1 pinch of saffron olive oil lemon juice

For the petinga:
250 gr of petinga (small sardines or other small fish), gutted, cleaned and salted
flour and white pepper
vegetable oil for frying
1/2 lemon

1. Wash the cockles thoroughly in cold water by rubbing the shells against each other and changing the water regularly. This is to remove dirt and sand from the outside of the shells.

2. Heat 4 tbsps of olive oil in a large pot and add the cockles keeping the heat high. Close the lid, shake occasionally and wait for them to open up. This will take 5 – 10 minutes (do not overcook). Add 1/2 cup of lemon juice as the cockles start opening.

3. In another large pot heat up 4 tbsps of olive oil and add the finely chopped onion and the bay leaves. Cook at medium heat until translucent then add the garlic and 1/2 cup of finely chopped coriander and the saffron.

4. In the meantime remove the cockles form the pot and strain the cooking liquid. Make sure you discard any sand that might accumulate at the bottom of the pot. Remove the meat out of most of the cockle shells, (leave some unshelled) and keep.

5. Add the cockle cooking liquid to the onion together with 3 cups of water plus a little salt (the cockles are already salty so best to season towards the end).

6. Once boiling add the rice and cook at medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary.

7. Heat of the vegetable oil in a large frying pan, dip the petinga or other fish in a mix of flour and white pepper and fry in hot oil until crispy. Do this in batches so not to overcrowd the pan. Remove to absorbent paper and sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juic.

8. When the rice is cooked (roughly 15 minutes) add both shelled and unshelled cockles, stir, taste and season with salt and pepper. Finely add the chopped coriander, stir once again and serve immediately. The rice should be moist but not runny, with a creamy texture while keeping the individual grains intact.

9. Serve either in the pot with the petinga on a separate serving dish or plate with a mount of rice and the petinga on top.

Cockle Rice with Petinga
Cockle Rice with Petinga

Published by

Pedro Rebelo

Pedro is a composer, sound artist and performer. In 2002, he was awarded a PhD by the University of Edinburgh where he conducted research in both music and architecture. Pedro has recently led participatory projects involving communities in Belfast, favelas in Maré, Rio de Janeiro, travelling communities in Portugal and a slum town in Mozambique. This work has resulted in sound art exhibitions at venues such as the Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast, Centro Cultural Português Maputo, Espaço Ecco in Brasilia and Parque Lage and Museu da Maré in Rio, Museu Nacional Grão Vasco and MAC Nitéroi. His music has been presented in venues such as the Melbourne Recital Hall, National Concert Hall Dublin, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Ars Electronica, Casa da Música, and in events such as Weimarer Frühjahrstage fur zeitgenössische Musik, Wien Modern Festival, Cynetart and Música Viva. His work as a pianist and improvisor has been released by Creative Source Recordings and he has collaborated with musicians such as Chris Brown, Mark Applebaum, Carlos Zingaro, Evan Parker and Pauline Oliveros as well as artists such as Suzanne Lacy. His writings reflect his approach to design and creative practice in a wider understanding of contemporary culture and emerging technologies. Pedro has been Visiting Professor at Stanford University (2007), senior visiting professor at UFRJ, Brazil (2014) and Collaborating Researcher at INEM-md Universidade Nova, Lisboa (2016). He has been Music Chair for international conferences such as ICMC 2008, SMC 2009, ISMIR 2012 and has been invited keynote speaker at ANPPOM 2017, ISEA 2017, CCMMR 2016 and EMS 2013. At Queen's University Belfast, he has held posts as Director of Education, Director of Research and Head of School. In 2012 he was appointed Professor of Sonic Arts at Queen's and awarded the Northern Bank's "Building Tomorrow's Belfast" prize. He has recently been awarded two major grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council including the interdisciplinary project “Sounding Conflict”, investigating relationships between sound, music and conflict situations. Ongoing research interests include immersive sound design and augmented listening experiences. Pedro has been appointed Director of the Sonic Arts Research Centre in 2021.

One thought on “Cockle Rice with Petinga/Arroz de Berbigão com Petinga”

  1. Hi, nice post !
    its cool to see that you apreciate our gastronomie !
    a little repair, Mexilhao, its another shell sea food, this is Berbigão !
    Best Regards

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