Market Name: Cockle
Scientific Name: Cardium edule; Austrovenus stutchburyi (formerly Chione stutchburyi); Anadara spp.
Common Name: Common cockle, European cockle; New Zealand cockle, New Zealand littleneck clam, Venus clam; blood cockle
Flavor: Mild
Texture: Medium

Although there are more than 200 species of bivalve mollusks worldwide described as cockles, only a half dozen are harvested on a significant scale as seafood. Once used widely as bait, cockles are now found at highend restaurants. Because the cockle has only recently shifted from bait to plate status, the industry remains poorly regulated in many areas. Notable exceptions are New Zealand and Australia, where destructive mechanical harvesting is discouraged and handling and processing are well regulated. Most cockles sold in the United States are from New Zealand aquaculture operations for Austrovenus strutchburyi, while a smaller share is blood cockles (Anadara granosa), farmed in Thailand and Malaysia and harvested wild in Indonesia. South Australia is poised to enter the U.S. cockle market. Common cockles from the U.K. are sold in the United States primarily as specialty items (pickled or vacuum packed with vinegar). Although mangrove cockles (Anadara grandis) are an important artisanal fishery in many Pacific coastal communities from Mexico to Peru and the common cockle is an increasingly important U.K. fishery, the respective markets are primarily regional.

Product Profile:
Cockles vary in size within and among species. Raw meat is gray and brown but turns a creamy color when cooked. Blood cockles are so named because the red meat produces a reddish-brown liquid when cooked. Although cockle flavor varies, from slightly sweet (New Zealand cockles) to more briny (European cockle), the taste and texture are similar to that of clams.

You Should Know:
Cockles could be one of several species from different global regions where harvesting and processing may be poorly regulated, if at all. Purchase only from reputable suppliers.

Cooking Tips:
Live cockles are sufficiently cooked as soon as the shells open; overcooked, they shrivel quickly. In the U.K., steamed cockles served with vinegar — the legendary ware of Molly Malone — are a traditional treat. For an Aussie flare, try cockles barbecued in the shell. For a classic Asian treatment, stir-fry cockles with vegetables or serve in a ginger or chili sauce. In western continental Europe, where cockles are in high demand, cockle stews and pasta dishes or cockles roasted in the shell are relished.

Cooking Methods: Grill,Poach,Smoke,Steam

Substitutions: Hardshell clams, Softshell clams, Chopped surf clams

Primary Product Forms:
Fresh: Meats
Frozen: Meats
Value-Added: Canned, Pickled, Bottled in brine, Smoked

Global Supply: