Cockles galore (and taking them means more)

Cockling offers a guaranteed meal for the whole family. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Cockling offers a guaranteed meal for the whole family. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
Cockling at Blueskin Bay is a 100% guaranteed method for your family to collect a seafood meal. The cockles (or clams) are harvested commercially here by the tonne and I was once told they grow so thickly that harvesting gives the remaining shellfish more room to grow.

Drive to near the end of Doctors Point Rd before taking a side track to the left. Do your cockling in the slack water of the inlet rather than the swifter-flowing channel. The best spot to find cockles is at the water’s edge at low tide, just below the surface. Stick your hands in the soft sand slowly, as there may also be jagged, sharp oyster shells.

A sieve and a scrubbing brush are quite handy to remove any sand from the surface before putting them into a bucket. Discard any shellfish which gape and do not respond by closing tightly when tapped.

Kept in a well-drained container and chilled, cockles will remain fresh for several days. They should not be held in fresh water or in contact with ice. I like to sit them overnight in clean salt water collected from where they were harvested to purge any remaining sand.

Cooking

Place cockles in a large pot over high heat, cover and steam until all shells are open. I also like to put a little vinegar and chopped onion in the pot. Shake the pot once or twice during cooking or move the cockles around with a wooden spoon. This should only take a few minutes, as cockles need very little cooking if they are to remain tender. Keep the juices and strain or decant before using. Cockles being naturally salty, there is no need to add salt.

They are now ready to be eaten fresh, added to a chowder or made into a delicious cockle patty.

Regulation

The catch limit is 50 cockles per person per day.

Equipment required

Bucket.

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