Saturday, 29 March 2014

Cockles on the Menu

Talking about our Seaside Harvests suggests to me that I should show how we use tham and share the recipes that they inspire. To that end I offer you a celebration of Cockles.

These meaty little bivalves, also known as vongole or baby clams, are common to sheltered sandy beaches and are often raked by foragers, however we have simply sorted through the sand with our toes and collected by hand and found enoug to satisfy our menu on the day.

Preparing the meats

Cockle meats

Bay fresh forraged cockles need to be scrubbed clean with a wire brush and purged in salted clean water and a handful of rolled oats for several hours. rinsed well and refridgerated overnight to ensure cleanliness. Steam in white wine, a splash of water and some garlic for 5-6 minutes. Open the cockles and remove the meat then gently rinse to remove any residual grit

The first step to enjoying cockles is to scrub them with a wire brush, remove the beard and then allow them to purge in fresh clean salted water and a andful of rolled oats for several hours. A jiggle now and then will help dislidge some of the grit and sand from within the shell.

Heat a large pan with some freshly minced garlic and a knob of butter until it begins to sizzle. Drop the cockles whole into the pan and then add a cup of water to boiling and a cup of white wine .... allow the shells to open and they are done. Not all shells will open, but as we have collected them fresh from the Bay we are confident they are ok to eat.

Drain and rinse well until cool enough to handle and using an oyster knife for the more stubborn open them and scoop out the meats.

Nutrition Facts

Amount Per 100 grams
Calories 79
                                             % Daily Value
 Total Fat 0.7 g         1%
 Total Carbohydrate 4.7 g         1%
 Protein 14 g       28%

Calcium                3%

 Iron                                      90%


Potted Cockles


Potted Cockles


  • 1 cup cockle meat, roughly chopped
  • 125 g butter
  • 2 x fresh bay leaves
  • 2 pinches nutmeg, freshly ground
  • 2 pinches paprika
  • 3 x slices wholemeal spelt sour dough, toasted
  • 1 Tbls tartare sauce, homemade if possible
  • 2 x wedges lime
  • 1 bunch garden fresh salad leaves of your choice



melt your butter in a pan with the bay leaves and spices and heat gently until it clarifies. Strain out the bay and leave the milk solids behind.
Place your cockle meat in a ramekin and press firmly and pour the spiced clarified butter reserving a small portion. place the ramekin in the fridge to set the pot. Once set, reheat the reserved clarified butter and pour on top to assure all meat is completely covered as some may float on the first pour. Return to the fridge to set completely.

Serve with toasted sour dough, lime wedges, salad and tartare sauce.

Perfect for a picnic

Battered Cockles

This recipe was especially a hit with the youngest who loves anything battered and deep fried. 


Battered Cockle
  • 2 tbs corn flour extra
  • 1 cup cockle meats 
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 2 tbs wholemeal spelt flour
  • 10 cockles
  • pinch salt
  • 40 ml soda water
  • oil for deep frying



Dredge the meats in extra corn flour
make the batter by blending the corn flour, spelt flour and salt then whisk in soda water
bring the frying oil up to temp. Dip each meat into the batter and deep fry until golden, drain on paper towel and serve 

Serves 1 snackish boy with a sprinkle of salt
or as an entree with tartare sauce

Cockle Butter
Cockle Butter


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup cockle meats


Dice up the meat roughly and mix into the butter thoughougly shape into a log and roll up in plastic wrap and placed in the fridge to harden

Cockle Butter Ravioli

ravioli construction


  • 1 portion of cockle butter (see above)
  • 1 cup cockle meats
  • 375g plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs beaten with a fork
  • Roasted tomato pasta sauce

Cockle butter ravioli


Sift flours onto a bench, form into a ring and pour well beaten eggs into the centre of the ring. gently stir the flour into the centre with the fingertips, mixing the flour well through until it all comes into a well mixed ball. cut the ball into 4 and wrap in individual pieces of plastic wrap, rest for 10 minutes.

Roll out the pasta to fit into the pasta machine and make long 2ml think lasagna sheets and place teaspoon sized pieces of cockle butter at regular intevals to make te required sized ravioli. Cut and fold the ravioli and press with a ravioli press into shape.

Drop the completed ravioli into rapidly boiling salted water.
When they rise to the top of the water scoop them out and drain. Serve with well heated roasted tomato pasta sauce, we roasted our own tomatos, onions, garlic and herbs and made our own.


Mythology and Cultural Significance 

The cockle-shell was sacred to Aphrodite, who was often depicted emerging from one in her birth scene. The half opened shell represented a woman's genitalia. Shellfish were regarded as sacred to the goddess Aphrodite and were so regarded as aphrodisiacs.

Cockle bread was a bread baked by English women in the seventeenth century which was supposed to act as a love charm or aphrodisiac. The dough was kneaded and pressed against the woman's vulva and then baked. This bread was then given to the object of the baker's affections.

The Haida peoples have legends of Raven and in one he released the first humans from a cockle shell on the beach.

A traditional food for many a coastal and delta Peoples. This shellfish has been used for food, ornamentation and currency as far back as 3000BC in Mesopotamia. Prehistoric graves in Lincolnshire, England were found full of cockle shells suggesting they were symbols of death and rebirth. When two shells are together they resemble a heart shape and are often called heart clams. Eating them is said to be good for the heart and ancient traditional medicines used them accordingly to improve heart function.

As an element of Magick cockles are associated with balance, contentment, love, the dawn and a gateway to a new life. They are good for centering, calming personal energy and represent new beginnings.

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