There’s a fishmonger near my house who sells all manner of crustaceans. I’ve gone through the standards like mussels and shrimp, and I’ve chickened out over the more challenging mollusks like octopus and giant squid. When I stand in the fish market and I want something a little bit different but non-intimidating, I end up with cockles.
Cockles are a bivalve (like clams, mussels and scallops) that are mostly wild-caught. The ones that I got for this dish came all the way from New Zealand. Cockles are tiny but they contain a ton of iron! I first started eating them last year when I discovered that I was very anemic.
Because they contain such little meat cockles should be treated more as an appetizer than as a meal, otherwise you’ll just be hungry later. However they are delicious and their rainbow shells are beautiful, so this is a good, easy recipe to whip up if you want to impress a dinner guest.
- 2 dozen cockles
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Small bunch of parsley
- 1 Tbsp palm shortening (optional)
- Choose a pot large enough to fit the cockles in a single layer. Fill this pot 1/2" deep with water, and add the rice vinegar and salt. Chop the garlic and the parsley and add them to the pot. Cover with a lid and bring the liquid to a boil.
- Lightly scrub the outside of the cockle shells to get off any loose sand. Add the cockles to the boiling water and cover. Steam the cockles in the covered pot for 3-5 minutes, until their shells have sprung open. If any of the cockles do not open after an additional minute of cooking, discard them.
- Put the cockles into bowls and serve immediately with lemon slices and the melted palm shortening.