In Finding Fire, flame wrangler Lennox Hastie of Sydney’s Firedoor shines a light on cooking with wood. Here he puts the heat on pipis.
In Finding Fire, Lennox Hastie shines a light on cooking with flame.
Pipis with garlic and karkalla
“Found all around the coast of Australia, pipis have long been an important food source for Indigenous Australians,” says Lennox Hastie. “As a youngster, I would take great delight in pipi-ing for fishing bait by shuffling in the sand between tides until I felt a shell pop between my toes. While you couldn’t get fresher pipis, they were as gritty as hell. You have to ensure that pipis are well purged of sand before cooking. There’s nothing worse than grit in your pipi.” The pipis should be cooked over intense heat, says Hastie. He uses applewood. 1.6 kg live pipis or small clams, purged and rinsed (see note)
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 bunch garlic scapes
100 gm karkalla (see note),
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil (a mild, fruity style such as arbequina or koroneiki) 1 long red chilli, seeds removed and very thinly sliced lengthways
1 cup (firmly packed) flat-leaf
parsley, finely chopped 1
Prepare the embers (see left). Spread embers evenly and set a wire rack about 2.5cm above the embers.
2 Place pipis directly on the rack, immediately cover with a lid and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until they begin to open. Uncover the pipis and, using a pair of tongs, carefully remove the pipis as they pop open, and place them in a bowl, retaining as much of their liquor as possible. Add lemon rind and juice and toss to coat.
3 Meanwhile, grill the garlic scapes and karkalla over the embers to your liking.
4 Heat the olive oil in a small cast-iron pan set over the embers. Add the chilli and gently fry until lightly golden. Pour the chilli oil over the pipis, then strain the mix of oil, lemon and pipi liquor into a warm saucepan and whisk to emulsify. Stir in the parsley.
5 Arrange pipis in a serving bowl and pour the emulsified juices over them, garnish with garlic scapes and karkalla and serve immediately.
Note To prepare pipis, discard any that are chipped or damaged. Tap to check the shells are tightly closed, discarding any that remain open. Soak in salted water for 30 minutes to purge impurities, then rinse the pipis in fresh water. Garlic scapes are available from farmers’ markets and select greengrocers. Karkalla, a beach succulent also known as beach banana and pigface, can be found at growers’ markets and select greengrocers; for stockists see Outback Pride Fresh (outbackpridefresh.com.au). ●
“As the flames die down, the heat rises, and embers emerge. Embers provide intense, consistent and clean heat, so this is the ideal time to cook.”