Nasturtium salad with pickled cockles, red mullet and capers

Aiden Byrne

Aiden Byrne

5th December 2010
Aiden Byrne

Nasturtium salad with pickled cockles, red mullet and capers

This delicately flavoured fish lends itself to a range of delicious red mullet recipes. Whether grilled, pan-fried or steamed, red mullet is the ideal addition to any dish - Why not give the following Nasturtium salad with pickled cockles, red mullet and capers recipe a try yourself?


  • Try and prepare the pickled cockles at least 1 day in advance.
  • To serve 4 portions
  • •30 medium sized nasturtium leaves
  • •24 multi colored nasturtium flowers
  • •50 grams super fine capers
  • •75 grams tempura batter mix
  • •1 kilo of fresh cockles
  • •4 small red mullet fillets (scaled and pin-boned)
  • •1 onion
  • •100 ml white wine
  • •75 white wine vinegar
  • •6 bay leaves
  • •3 large thyme sprigs
  • •a pinch of saffron strands
  • •150 grams potato (peeled and finely sliced)
  • •4 cloves of garlic (sliced)
  • •2 egg yolks
  • •200 ml vegetable oil
  • •1 large banana shallot (sliced into rings)


1.Run the cockles under plenty of cold running water for about 2-3 hours, this will help extract any sand.
2.To make the pickling liquor heat ½ the white wine, the white wine vinegar, ½ the thyme sprigs, ½ the bay leaves, and white peppercorns, simmer for 5 minutes; this will form the pickling liquor for the cockles. Leave to cool and season with a touch of salt.
3.Chop the onion roughly and mix with the remaining white wine, thyme, bay leaves and ½ the garlic. Heat your largest casserole style pan with a lid on the stove for about 5-6 minutes then add your drained cockles and your vegetables/wine. Cover immediately with the lid and cook for 3-4 minutes.
4.Pour the cockles onto a tray and allow to cool slightly (retaining the cooking liquor. Pick the cockles out of their shell and place immediately into the pickling liquor, leaving them there for as long as possible.
5.To make the saffron cream drain the cooking liquor from the cockles through a muslin cloth or a very fine sieve and place in a pan with the remaining sliced garlic, sliced potato and the saffron strands. Reduce the liquid until it’s almost gone. Whilst still warm add the egg yolks and, with a whisk attachment to a hand blender gradually add ½ of the oil as if making mayonnaise. Season with a touch of salt and lemon juice. Set aside.
6.Coat ¼ of the nasturtium flowers, leaves and cockles in the tempura batter and fry in hot oil until crisp. Season with salt and a touch of lemon juice as soon as they come out of the fryer.
7.Place the seasoned red mullet fillets into a non-stick frying pan, skin side down, and cook for about 1 ½ minutes or until the skin becomes crisp. Turn over and cook for a further 30 seconds on the flesh side. Season with lemon juice and carve each fillet into 3 pieces.
8.Now it’s just a case of plating everything in a salad style presentation. Put your saffron cream on the plate first, toss your cockles in a touch of olive oil and scatter them around the plate. Then scatter over your deep fried items followed by the fresh salad leaves and flowers. Now sprinkle over the capers and sliced shallot rings. Finally drop the red mullets fillets liberally over the salad.

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