Steamed Cockles in a Habanero Chive Both
New Zealand Cockles have a flavor reminiscent of the Adriatic clams I loved so much in Italy, only they travel better. However, any briny clam will do. Be careful with habaneros if you have not worked with them before – they are pericolosi (that’s Italian for dangerous). Wear kitchen gloves while you chop and seed them.
In a large skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, or until soft and lightly browned. Add the chili, half of the chives, the cockles, wine and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Cover and cook until all the cockles steam open, about 5 minutes. Discard any cockles that do not open.
Season the broth with salt and pepper. Divide the cockles and broth evenly among four warmed bowls, top with remaining chives, and serve with bread.
Basic Tomato Sauce Instructions
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, 8-10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook for 5 minutes more, or until the carrot is quite soft. With your hands, crush the tomatoes and add them with their juices. Bring to a boil, stirring often, and then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced to the consistency of hot oatmeal. Season with salt and serve.