Mediterranean live clams usually go straight into the cooking pot with oil and garlic. However, because Spanish cured hams are so exceptional, adding even a little will season and enliven many such savoury dishes. Mar i montana (sea and mountains) — the combining of meat with fish or seafood — is a typically Catalan cooking idea. The cooking time for this recipe is just a few minutes, meaning that this tapas dish is ready in a flash.
Spanish clams with serrano ham
Almejas con jamon serrano
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
500g small fresh clams, or frozen uncooked clams
50g serrano ham, cut into thin strips
1 small green chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4 tbsp white wine or cider
2 tbsp chopped spring onion, chives or parsley
1. Put the oil, clams, serrano ham, chilli and garlic in a saucepan and stir over a high heat. When the serrano ham is cooked and the clams begin to open, add the wine, cover the saucepan and shake it to mix the ingredients. Cook on high for a further 2-3 minutes or until the clams have opened and are cooked (discard any that don’t open).
2. Sprinkle with the chopped spring onion. Cover again for one minute, then ladle into shallow soup bowls.
A coca is an open empanada, a bit like a pizza, that originates in Catalonia and the Balearics. It is cooked in a communal outdoor stone or brick oven. A typical coca has just one or two topping ingredients, as in this recipe. If you haven’t any piquillo peppers, use canned pimientos or grilled or roasted fresh red peppers.
Spanish tart with peppers
250g plain flour
½ sachet easy-blend yeast
½ tsp fine sea salt
For the topping:
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 large red onions, cut into wedges
About 500g canned piquillo peppers, drained
Leaves from a small handful of fresh rosemary sprigs or fresh thyme
2 tbsp anchovy paste or purée, or canned anchovies, chopped and mashed
16 marinated anchovy fillets
A baking sheet; oiled
1. To make the dough, put the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl and mix. Add 150ml of lukewarm water and mix to a satiny dough, then knead using a little extra flour, still in the bowl for 5 minutes or until silky. Cover the bowl with a cloth and leave in a warm place for about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
2. Meanwhile, to make the topping, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan, add the onions and cook, stirring over a medium heat until softened and transparent. Slice half the piquillos and add to the pan. Stir in most of the rosemary.
3. Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F/ Gas 7).
4. Transfer the dough to the oiled baking sheet. Punch down, flatten and roll out the dough to a circle 30cm/12 inches in diameter. Snip, twist or roll the edges. Spread the anchovy paste all over the top. Add the remaining piquillos, left whole, and the cooked onion mixture. Arrange the anchovies and remaining rosemary in a decorative pattern on top and sprinkle with the remaining oil.
5. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until the base is crisp and risen, the edges golden and the filling hot and wilted. Serve in wedges, hot or cool.
Extracted from Tapas & Other Spanish Plates to Share published by Ryland Peters & Small at €12.95. Photography © Ryland Peters & Small
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