Amandes de Mer
Amandes de mer -- In France, Amandes de Mer or cockles in English will be on the menu in nearly every seafood restaurant. On a seafood platter, they may be steamed and then served chilled with a portion of maison-made mayonnaise — or as a main dish they may be fried with garlic, served with pasta, cooked in white wine or grilled on skewers. Cooked cockles may be cut up and served cold in salads or cooked with fish or other shellfish in a soup or stew. For this recipe, be sure to serve with the cooking juices. We ate them just as they were, with crusty wedges of fresh baguette, but the clams are also delicious on pasta.
1 kilo of ‘Amandes de Mer’ cockles or large 3-6 cm clams
Rinse the clams in cold water, cleaning the shells if needed and soak in a bowl of salted water for at least an hour, changing the water out several times.
1 large red pepper
1 large orange or yellow pepper
3 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil and 2-3 cloves grated garlic
Sweet pepper flakes
1 glass dry white wine
Sauce au piment d’Espellette — similar to Tabasco but more flavorful
Preheat oven to 400F. Lay the rinsed clams on a large piece of parchment paper and add chopped red and orange peppers, and melted garlic butter (melted butter or olive oil with grated garlic if you prefer). I also added a splash of 'sauce au piment d'Espelette' (a red pepper found in the Basque region) to the melted butter and pepper flakes. Lastly pour over a glass of dry white wine.
Part 3 - Bringing it all together
Wrap the parchment around to form a steaming pocket, be sure to seal the ends by twisting or folding the paper. Steam the clams 'en papillote' in a 400F oven for 5 - 10 minutes (depending on size) or until they are open.
Serve over pasta, making sure to use the juices from the steaming process for the ‘sauce’ and add a drizzle olive oil and more pepper flakes.
Shellfish is generally bought alive and you should only purchase bivalves with a well closed shell. In the shell, the flesh must be shiny with some seawater inside. Do not eat clams with cracked or broken shells.
Be sure not to over-cook as shellfish — particularly clams, can become quite tough or rubbery.
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