Cockles and mussels

She died of a fever
And no one could save her
And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone
But her ghost wheels her barrow
Through streets broad and narrow
Crying cockles and mussels alive, alive o!

Lyrics from Molly Malone

It can be quite frustrating at times to go to the market and have a specific recipe in mind, but unfortunately the key ingredients are not available. That’s how I felt last week, when my mind was temporarily evaporating away from any possible ideas for lunch. Luckily, I heard an inspiring voice, it was Loïc the fishmonger saying to his customers ‘Look at their beauty, these mussels are exquisite‘. I had to have at look at the goods. The crow-blue shells were glistening with beauty, and yes, I agreed that the blue was exceptionally beautiful. When Loïc opened one of them, the yellow was brighter than the morning sun. This can only mean one thing – it must taste good.

I blindly bought mussels and when I saw cockles, my thoughts revived – I instantly knew I would make little ‘papillote’ parcels, filled with lemon zest, thyme, red onions and olive oil. Just like a summer gift, only better.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

You will need 6 sheets of aluminium paper foil
700 g mussels, cleaned
700 g cockles, cleaned
1 large red onion, finely chopped
Large handful of fresh thyme
Large handful of parsley
6 bay leaves
Grated zest of 2 lemons
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp mustard
5 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven 230° C/ 450 F

Clean the mussels and cockles – remove the ‘beard’ of the mussels and scrape any hard residue off the shells with a smooth knife blade. Soak for 20 minutes, rinse several times until water runs clear.
Prepare 6 sheets of aluminium foil to create parcels – Fold six 60 cm/ 24 inch pieces of aluminium foil in half. Place mussels, cockles, lemon zest, juice, herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper in the center. Fold foil over the ingredients, making small overlapping folds along the edge to seal. Seal tightly.

Bake for 10 minutes. Prepare the vinaigrette. In a bowl, mix mustard, olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.

When parcels are ready, serve immediately – pour in a deep-set plate and drizzle with vinaigrette.

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