Monday, October 11, 2010

RECIPE - Cockles in Coconut Milk (Maçunim ao Coco)

This recipe, from the tiny state of Alagoas in Brazil's Northeast, is made with a typical shellfish from that region, called maçunim in Portuguese, and cockles in English. Here shelled maçunins are cooked in a sauce that uses seasonings common to the region, like cilantro, onion, tomato, green pepper and the red-orange coloring ingredient known as urucum, achiote or annatto.

As I mentioned in the previous post here on Flavors of Brazil, if cockles aren't available in your local market or at the fishmongers, I'd suggest using whatever type of clam is best in your region. The dish would probably also work well with mussels, but the result would be more distant from its origins on the beaches of Alagoas.

RECIPE - Cockles in Coconut Milk (Maçunim ao Coco)
Serves 2

2/3 lb (300 gr) precooked cockles, without shells
juice of one lime
salt to taste
1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. cilanto, finely chopped
1 tsp. annatto powder (sweet paprika may be substituted)
1 medium green pepper, finely diced
1 medium tomato, seeded and finely diced
1/2 cup canned or freshly-made coconut milk

Wash the cockles well in several changes of cold water to remove all traces of sand. Season them with the lime juice and salt to taste, and let stand for 15 minutes. In a medium saucepan, heat the oil, then add the cockles, the onion, cilantro, annatto, green pepper and tomato and cook for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are softened and tomato begins to cook down. Add the coconut milk, bring to a boil, then turn heat down to medium low and cook for 10 more minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly.

Remove from heat, and serve immediately, accompanied by white rice and a green salad.

Recipe translated and adapted from Cozinha Regional Brazileira by Abril Editora

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