Clam picada

Clam picada

By
From
The Art Of The Larder
Photographer
Mike Lusmore

From Catalonia, a picada is a combination of pounded nuts and crusty bread used to thicken and flavour a broth or liquid. Made here with almonds, garlic and fried bread, the picada is added to the clam and sherry cooking juices. You can experiment with different nuts if you like – hazelnuts or walnuts are good – or add a picada to other dishes, such as chicken cooked in stock, or various soupy shellfish dishes. What you have is a punchy, highly flavoured ingredient to thicken and invigorate a cooking broth.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1kg clams
75g skinned whole almonds, roughly chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
4 slices crusty white bread, crusts off, torn into 2.5cm pieces
4 garlic cloves, 2 thinly sliced and 2 roughly chopped
a small bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves roughly chopped
75ml dry sherry, (fino or manzanilla is best, or use white wine)
salt
freshly ground black pepper
crusty bread, to serve

Method

  1. Wash the clams in plenty of cold water, discarding any that don’t close when tapped on a surface or that have cracked or broken shells.
  2. Dry-roast the almonds for 2 minutes in a frying pan over a moderate heat or in a hot oven, and put to one side to cool. Using the same frying pan, fry the bread with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil for about 3 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.
  3. Use a food processor to blend the roasted almonds, roughly chopped garlic, parsley, fried bread and 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a coarse paste, then put to one side.
  4. Place a large pan that has a lid on the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the sliced garlic. Cook for 1 minute – do not let the garlic brown. As soon as the garlic is fragrant, add the clams and the sherry, cover the pan and cook until the clams have just opened, about 3 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, remove the clams with a slotted spoon and keep them to one side. Add the picada to the pan and stir into the cooking juices to thicken them. Return the clams to the pan and check the seasoning.
  6. Serve immediately, with crusty bread.
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