Ellyse Randrup, Gathered Vongole
This is something that my mum cooks when we have a bunch of friends around, or something I cook for friends now.
I like it because its simple and cheap, if you are foraging for the cockles. If you buy the cockles they are usually not too pricey either.
At home we have a large pottery bowl, grey flecks with some midnight coloured strokes in the center. The edges are similar to a beehive, little steps on the outer surface that reach a wide circumference, perfect for serving a mass of pasta. It was a gift given years ago to my mum, we usually have our fruit in it on a corner table. Sometimes peoples misc. belongings of hats or sunglasses end up in it, or just a cloth on top to keep away fruit flies.
This meal was brought to our families attention when my father meet this Italian windsurfer who was camping with his wife and young baby. He offered that they come and camp out at our place.
While they stayed Veronica made us yum meals and shared them with my mum. It was a cosy time. Some recipes she wouldn’t share. One time I asked about these little breads and she vaguely escaped with a genuine ‘no’ to me, I was maybe around 7, I admired her for that. I also think maybe she couldn’t be bothered telling a 7 yr old how to make her grandmothers bread, I could tell she was busy preparing something. So I ran away with a bit of happy uncertainty from the interaction.
Thats not the dish I’m sharing with you, only setting the scene.
My family live on a tidal inlet, where we have the water streaming in maybe twice or once a day, depends. When the tide is out you can see families of mostly Maori or Pacifica gatherers and then maybe by chance a Pakeha (like myself when I return home) picking and sitting on the edge of the outgoing or incoming tide. You can tell they are not swimmers as they will have a bucket or Kete sitting or floating with them.
Veronica noticed these gatherers and said she will make Vongole.
Time: it’s quite quick. Maybe 20min?
Serving? 1 Packet of pasta for 6 or 2 1/2 Packets for 12 or more.
Cockle gatherer note
If you have gathered them yourself as we do, you will need to let them spit in salt water for a day or overnight changing the salt water. Also rub off any barnacles or creatures that may appear on the cockles surface. Make sure there is a cockle organism inside the shell, sometimes it could merely be sand or mud. (Also don’t wash them with normal tab water, thats a general fish rule…)
p.s. this part can get quick.
Optional or alternatives with Vongole base if no cockles are about
I recently did a version of this for a German friend while isolating in Auckland City, I didn’t have any cockles but my sister had sent me some Smoked Kingfish.
This is how it went:
I made the same sauce as above with following substitutes – a handful anchovies (5+) & a few capers, I didn’t have any wine so free-styled it with some leftover liquids that I had in the pantry, a mix of vinegar and lemon juice + splash of Umeboshi as substitute (added up to about a cup size with some added anchovy liquid). Then I mixed the pasta in with the anchovies & liquid sauce. Tossed around a bit, added Parsley and broke up the Smoked fish with my hands into the pot at the end. This was a pretty yum version.
I usually will sneak a drizzle of good quality olive oil at the end to serve.
My friend said they did a similar pasta vongole though with sea asparagus (samphire). He said it looked beautiful with the pasta noodles and the samphire. They added Sardines and anchovies too.