Sunday, August 17, 2008

Kerang chowder

While was in the field I scored myself some local kerang or cockles which were quite huge - about three times the size of those you would normally get at the market. I suppose you could call them free-range kerang. In Singapore and Malaysia these are also called blood cockles, because they release a red liquid that is coloured by hemoglobin - yes, the same thing found in blood! I had a cup of good solid meat, so I decided to make a chowder out of it by adapting a vichyssoise recipe by Alton Brown. Make sure to thoroughly clean the mud-filtering cockles! Of course, you can use other edible bivalves available to you.

Kerang chowder

Meat from 1 kilo of Kerang or other shellfish (about 2/3 cup)
2 medium floury potatoes, diced into 1cm cubes
3 medium leeks, chopped
1 tbsp butter
Salt and pepper
2 cups water or stock
Whole milk to taste
Special equipment: Blender/Food Processor

1. Kerang cleaning: Cockles are mud filters, which mean they should each be thoroughly scrubbed with a brush on the outside before they are sent to soak in slightly salted water for at least three hours. This will allow the molluscs to open up a little and let the dirt sink to the bottom. Steam the cockles for five minutes, de-shell and set aside.

2. Sweat the leeks with butter until tender, about 10 min in low heat. Add potatoes and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and continue to simmer for 30 min.

3. Run the soup through a blender with half of the kerang meat. Pulse until a smooth, thick paste.

4. Return soup base into pot and add remaining kerang meat. At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze your soup for later consumption.

5. To prepare: Heat soup portion with desired amount of milk - about two to three tablespoons does it for me. Salt and pepper to taste. Makes about 4 servings.

Cost breakdown
Total cost: RM6.10++
Cost per serve: RM1.50++
Potatoes RM1.10
Leeks RM1.50
Kerang RM3.50

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