Inspired by Bulhão Pato’s coriander, garlic and shellfish magic, this is a flavourful and delicious approach to serving fish filets. The make or break aspect of this is to get the right flavour balance in the shell fish stock. The method works equally well with fillets of bream or bass.
Snapper with Cockle Sauce
4 fillets of snapper (bass works well too)
.5kg cockles (or clams)
4 tbsp chopped coriander
6 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves of garlic (mashed)
1 small dried chilli
1 bay leaf
4 slices of good white bread
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp butter
1. Thouroghly wash the cockles in plenty of water leave in salted cold water for 30 minutes the rinse. Careful washing is critical to avoid ending up with sand in your sauce…
2. Finely chop the leeks and sautée in a covered pot with a tbsp of butter and a little salt. Stir occasionally and cook for 15 minutes or until leeks are tender and soft.
3. In a large pot gently warm 2 tbsp of olive oil, add half the garlic and bay leaf. Stir for a minute then add the cockles. Cover and stir or shake occasionally. Cook until shells open (about 3-4 minutes).
4. Strain the cockle juice into a small sauce pan and keep warm. Reduce, taste and correct seasoning if necessary. Remove meat from most of the cockles, keeping some shells for service.
5. Fry the bread slices in 4 tbsp of olive oil until crisp on both sides and set aside.
6. Mix the chopped coriander with the mashed garlic in a mortar and pestle until you achieve a paste like texture (add a little olive oil if desired).
7. Finally, fry the fillets. Pat them dry with kitchen paper, heat a large skillet, add 1/2 tbsp of rapeseed oil, wait for the oil to heat and add the fillets skin side down. Leave until skin turns crispy the the fillet is mostly cooked the turn the fish and cook for another minute or two taking care not to overcook.
8. Serve by placing a bed of leek in the centre of the plate, a slice of fried bread covered with the coriander paste and place the fish fillet on top (skin side up). Surround with some sauce, cockle meat and some cockle shells. Serve immediately.