Cockles have been harvested in Penclawdd since Roman Times. Whether from the market (Swansea and Cardiff) or even in London’s East End the Penclawdd cockle is the acknowledged best. All they need is a little white pepper and a good dousing of malt vinegar.
Most Cockles are sold locally but some are also exported to Spain, Holland, France and Portugal.
Cockles are the family Cardiidae of bivalve mollusks. The rounded shells are symmetrical, heart-shaped and feature strongly pronounced ribs. The mantle has three apertures (inhalant, exhalant, and pedal) for siphoning water and for the foot to protrude. Cockles typically burrow using the foot and feed by siphoning water in and out, sifting plankton from it. They are also capable of ‘jumping’ by bending and straightening the foot. Unlike most bivalves, cockles are hermaphroditic and reproduce quickly.
For a recipe with a contemporary twist try –
Spring Rolls with Cockles
Swansea and Cardiff Markets are one of the best places to buy cockles. In South Wales cockles would traditionally have formed part of the traditional breakfast, along with fried eggs and fatty bacon. Cockles are plump and sweet, making them ideal for seafood dishes with pasta and rice. This recipe gives them an Oriental twist. The mixture of cockles, mushrooms, fine noodles and exotic flavours make this a very interesting starter.
- 50g/2oz thin cellophane noodles
- 25g/1oz shitake mushrooms
- 100g/4oz cooked cockles
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 2.5cm/1” fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- ½tbs soy sauce
- 6 large spring roll wraps
- 1tbs flour mixed to a paste with water
- Vegetable oil for frying
Soak the noodles for 20 minutes until soft, drain well, place on a chopping board and cut them into 2.5cm/1inch lengths.
Place the noodles in a mixing bowl, add the cockles, shallots, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and season with black pepper. Cut the spring roll wraps in half, brush with some of the flour paste, place a dessertspoon of mixture on to the wrap. Roll up like a cigar, folding the edges in as you go.
Heat the oil until a cube of bread browns in 2 minutes. Cook the spring rolls in batches, drain well on kitchen paper. Serve with some Thai fish sauce, or a chilli dipping sauce.