By Janice Light
To make this simple Paella, say for 4 people, you need a colander of bivalves such as cockles (Cerastoderma and Acanthocardia species), scallops (Aequipecten and Chlamys species), razor-clams (Ensis and Solen species), venerid clams (Venerupis and Tapes species, Chamelea gallina) surf clams (Spisula and Donax species). Most of these bivalves can be added in the shell at the final stages of cooking but Acanthocardia, scallops and Ensis clams need pre-steaming to remove the flesh from the shells. The former, which are large cockles, will need to be cut into smaller bite-sized pieces and the scallops and Ensis need to have the dark digestive glands removed so that you are left with the white flesh of the mantle and foot, and in the case of the scallops, the orange ‘coral’ or gonad.
First check that all the bivalves are still alive – the shells should be tightly shut.
Take a finely chopped medium onion, 4 crushed cloves of garlic, a sliced leek and a de-seeded and sliced red pepper and fry for a few minutes in olive oil until softened. Add 12 oz (335g) of Arborio or Valencia rice to the pan and stir until the grains are well coated with oil. Add a pint and a half of chicken stock, some saffron, bring to the boil, season then lower the heat and cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, steam the large cockles, scallops and razor clams and prepare as described above. Uncover the rice and add the uncooked bivalves, recover the pan and cook for 5 minutes or until all the clams have opened, then add the cooked bivalve pieces and allow to heat through gently but thoroughly. To serve, fork through the rice and seafood and serve.