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Before starting this Seared Baby Squid with Cockles and Samphire recipe, make sure you have organised all the necessary ingredients. For the cockles: Soak the cockles in salt water for 30 minutes. Drain with your hands so that the sand remains at the bottom of the bowl.
Pour a little water at the bottom of the steam cooker. Only a small amount is required, as the cockles will render water during cooking.
Add the white wine...
... some seaweed flakes...
... a few slices of a dried Espelette pepper (use scissors)...
... one shallot (coarsely chopped)...
... two garlic cloves (chopped)...
... the green part of a spring onion (chopped)...
... and a few sprigs of samphire.
Place a steam basket on top.
Close with the lid. Wait until the cooker creates a significant amount of steam.
Place the cockles into the steam basket...
... then cover with the lid and watch the cockles closely. The cockles should be removed when just opened. Do not steam them any longer, otherwise they will be overcooked. This will takes only tens of seconds.
Remove the steam basket. Remove the cockles from the shells and set aside at room temperature. Keep a few cockles in their shells for the finish.
Sieve the cooking juices.
Heat the cooking juice in a saucepan.
Slice the seaweed butter. It should be very cold.
Add the butter to the boiling juice. 4 or 5 slices should be plenty.
Emulsify using a hand blender. Tilt the saucepan and use the blender head on the surface of the preparation to incorporate air.
A foamy consistency should appear on the surface.
Add the soy lecithin powder...
... then emulsify again. Set aside.
Clean the baby squid.
Pull the insides out, then make sure to remove the central piece of cartilage.
Remove the small fins (they can be used for a different recipe).
Remove the dark skin.
Wash the squid under running water, rolling it up a bit to remove all the sand inside.
Remove the head, then cut the tentacles just below the eyes.
Place the squid on a paper towel to dry. This operation is essential to prevent the squid from rendering water while cooking.
Cut the squid into thin strips. Cut the tentacles as well.
Chop the samphire.
Sear the squid in a frying pan with hot olive oil.
Add the chopped samphire. Add very little salt!
Deglaze with a dash of Xipister (a Basque dressing made with olive oil, Espelette pepper, thyme and garlic).
Remove the pan from the heat.
The squid should cook for no more than 2 minutes. The squid is now ready. The right consistency should be tender.
For the finish: Arrange the warm cockles on a plate.
Add the hot baby squid.
Add a few sprigs of samphire for acidity...
... and some foam on the surface. Make sure you scoop both the juice and foam from the saucepan.
If you wish, you can add pieces of seaweed tuiles for a crunchy effect (made by mixing flour, seaweed paste, seaweed flakes, butter and vinegar).
Then, add a few sprigs of wild sorrel to bring more acidity to the dish.
Finish by sprinkling some Espelette pepper over the plate for a real Basque twist, and by arranging a few cockles in their shell. Enjoy!