Vongole, pipis and thoughts

Hello again!

Realised that I forgot to post about the pipi, versus vongole cooking.

Now, pipis or cockles is the name given to a bivalve mollusc found here in South Australia (yees, mollusc…snail), and it is a popular pasttime for the whole family, also known as ‘cockling’link

We saw people digging for pipis some three weeks ago when visiting Murray Mouth for some 4wd on the beach. No time for digging besides, temps dropped below twenty and it was windy and the weather was…..very unexpected, overcast and getting colder.

Anyhow, the vongole shopping was prompted by our visit to Jolley’s Boathouse the other night. We had Goolwa pipis, served in a lush, strong flavourful, tweaked by chilipepper overwhelming sauce. Very nice sauce, except it sort of took over, but the strange part was that the mussels/pipis themselves were so strong in flavour it bowled me over, so I could see why the serving sauce was so strong. Asked how they were cooked, and was told that they were first steamed open and then coated with the sauce.

Hm. First time I cooked vongole (may have been pipis) I used a white wine that we didn’t like very much. The mussels agreed with us. A strong mussel flavour that lingered.

Second time…used a GOOD white wine, success. Strong flavour there but different.

Now, with the visit to Samtass at Central Market, we decided between pipis or vongole, we chose vongole, ie a smaller mussel.

A common compaint you will hear a lot is..sand. Firstly, let them sit in salt water in a large bowl for a couple of hours. This will make the vongole/pipis ‘puff’ the sand out of their shells, they will feel the salt eater and open up a bit. Secondly, the shells must be scrubbed, hard, thoroughly before cooking. All the green algae and the black stains…get rid of them.

Wine for cooking, I had an opened bottle of Chenin blanc from Gascoigne at hand (Vintage Cellars), so heated a skillet so the copper turned blueish, dumped the cleaned vongole in there, added a generous dollop of wine….too generous, killed all the heat 😅 waited until the heat returned, cooked the vongole until all shells had opened, removed them and the juices from the skillet, added some olive oil and chopped garlic (three large cloves),  some dried chili flakes(approx a tea spoon) , whiff of salt, gave it a minute, then added some finely chopped Cavolo Nero (Black kale) and a dollop f the pasta water (we went gluten free),, cooked while stirring for another minute, then added the ongole and juices back in, a hand ful of finely chopped flat leaf parsley, some lemon zest, some pasta, stirred like a mad woman, then served.

600 grammes vongole, and 200 grammes pasta was roughly enough for four people unless they have very hearty appetites.

Served with some more Chenin blanc. Yum.

Smaller mussel, little less meat, but….meat is strong and sweet, and a delight served this way. We were in seventh heaven. The Chenin blanc comes from Vintage Cellars, couldn’t find it on their website. Strongly recommend a visit if you are close by. We cleaned out the one in North Adelaide, so you have Central market and Norwood left to try 😆 oh, and it was on sale as well 😀


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