Fish of the month


Welsh cockle crostini

from two to three
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Picture of Welsh cockle crostini

This makes great canapes, or a modest starter. If you use really good sea salt - Anglesey Sea Salt is best - it confers an extra briney tang and whiff of ozone. Eaten together, the seaweed, salt and shellfish create such a strong marine flavour, you can close your eyes and imagine you are down at the shoreline


Cooking time   30
Fish type   Shellfish
Serves   8

Ingredients

A baguette, ciabatta or sourdough loaf
Good quality streaky bacon
Laverbread (tinned laverbread is fine)
Fresh or pickled cockles
Sea salt
Butter

Preparation

If you are using fresh cockles, soak them in a saucepan of salted tap water overnight, to let them disgorge any sand or silt. The next morning, discard any that are not tightly closed. Strain, and put the rest in a saucepan. Add a wineglass of water or cider, put a lid on the saucepan and steam on a high heat. After five minutes they should all be open; discard any that are not. Pick out all the opened cockles from their shells and either sprinkle lightly with malt vinegar and a little lemon juice or, if you prefer stronger flavours, pickle them in the same mixture overnight. Strain any pickling mixture off the cockles before using.

Cooking

Fry the bacon in butter until crisp. Cut into strips with kitchen scissors. If you like, when you have turned the heat off, you can tip the cockles into the pan to warm up a little alongside the bacon while the bread is toasting. Slice your bread, brush the slices with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake or grill until the bread turns golden-brown. Take the hot slices of bread and quickly spread with laverbread — a little more thickly than Marmite, a little less than your favourite jam. Top the slices with the pieces of bacon and cockles, and scatter with sea salt.