Cockle Fritters with Aļoli
New Zealand chef Dean Betts usually makes his fritters with the tiny fish called whitebait, traditional in New Zealand. The kind of whitebait he uses is not readily available in the U.S., so he supplied us with this recipe, another of his favorites, using cockles.
FOR THE AĻOLI:
1 clove garlic
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1⁄2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
FOR THE FRITTERS:
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1⁄4 cup white wine
4 lbs. cockles or small clams, scrubbed
1 tbsp. butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten
Freshly ground black pepper
1. For the aļoli: Put garlic and a pinch of salt into a mortar and crush with a pestle into a paste. Transfer paste to a bowl; add mayonnaise, lemon juice, parsley, and salt to taste; stir well. Cover aļoli with plastic wrap, pressing it against surface; refrigerate.
2. For the fritters: Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 1 minute. Add wine, 1⁄4 cup water, and cockles and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until cockles have opened, 7–8 minutes. Remove from heat and, using a slotted spoon, transfer cockles to a bowl, leaving liquid behind. When cockles have cooled, remove from shells and roughly chop meat; set aside. Meanwhile, strain liquid through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a small saucepan and simmer vigorously over medium heat until slightly thickened, 8–10 minutes; set aside.
3. Preheat broiler. Heat butter in an 8" nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Put cockles, eggs, and 2–3 tsp. of the clam liquid into a medium bowl and stir well. (Reserve remaining clam liquid for another use.) Add cockle mixture to skillet and cook, lifting edges with a rubber spatula to let egg run underneath, until slightly set and underside is light golden brown, about 3 minutes. Broil fritter until completely set and light golden brown on top, about 4 minutes. Invert fritter onto a cutting board, cut into 4 wedges, and serve with a dollop of aļoli and with a wedge of lemon, if you like.