Updated: Apr 6, 2022
"O que não mata, engorda." ("What doesn't kill you, fattens you up.")
Portuguese paraphrasing of Friedrich Nietzsche (1888)
I wanted to create a dish with images in mind of the sort of plate you might find in the display cabinet atop the bar of one of those casual eateries you encounter in countries around the Mediterranean. At the time I was particularly intent on featuring octopus as the star seafood ingredient, but black olives, green pepper and tomatoes were securely on the ingredient list as well.
The dish I conjured up for a poolside lunch came to include clams as well as the octopus (because my friend’s daughter had insisted we buy clams on the preceding supermarket trip but then decided she didn’t want them, and I didn’t want to see them go to waste) and not a scrap was left of it (my friend’s daughter didn’t eat a scrap of it).
I have since made essentially the same dish for my family using only octopus for the seafood input, and not a scrap was left of that. But given we don’t see octopus on the market stall and right now the mussels are both available and very tasty, I have tested the dish’s versatility by using mussels and cockles, and when I ate it, I didn’t leave a scrap of it.
Because of the inclusion of lime juice and fresh coriander I'm inclined to suggest that the flavours reminisce of Portugal but I couldn't honestly recollect of having eaten this dish there. It suits early autumn here because the summer crops of tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are still producing, and all the shellfish are available on the market stall. Whether Portuguese or otherwise, "bom proveito!".
There really are many seafood directions you can go with this recipe. I'm sure that, appropriately pre-cooked and chilled, prawns, squid, octopus, cuttlefish, mussels, clams, cockles and whelks would all perform well in this salad.
I don’t think I can ever really endorse the use of those pitted black olives that come in jars of brine, and it’s not that I am doing so here. However, for this particular dish they actually work fine.
Although the recipe says to remove the shellfish from their shells, a few specimens left in does help to pretty-up the plate. Some cold, boiled new potatoes would accompany nicely.
Ingredients (quantities to taste)
Cockles and mussels, steamed open, meats removed and chilled
Red onion, diced
Cucumber, seeds removed and cut into dice
Cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
Green pepper, diced
Black olives, pitted if preferred
Cournichons (or gherkins), cut into dice
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Coriander leaves, chopped
Combine all the ingredients except the coriander and dress with the lime juice, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and leave to macerate for about 10 minutes.
Add the chopped coriander, adjust the seasoning as necessary and serve.
Notorius Pink Grenache 2018: Very pale in colour, with just the right quantity of sweetness to partner the salinity of the seafood and not cower in the company of the coriander. https://www.wine-searcher.com/find/notorious+pink+grenache+de+table+france