What Are Cockles?

What are cockles? A wonderful, whimsical, almost Seussian word, cockles are more than just what Mary, Mary Quite Contrary grows in her garden—they’re a type of mollusk. Today, we’ll break down what makes these sea-faring stalwarts such a delectable option when it comes to livening up your (checks internet for nautical term for kitchen…) galley! Landlubbers may want to sit this one out, because today, we’re on the high seas and talking cockles! Anchors aweigh!

What is a cockle?

A cockle is an edible marine mollusk with an ornate, ridged shell that resembles a heart shape. The flesh inside the shell is firm and white, with a slightly sweet taste, and can be enjoyed raw or cooked in various dishes such as paella or chowder. Bring them to a party, and you’ll surely be the cockle of the walk-le. 

Are cockles clams?

Looks can be deceiving! While cockles indeed share many visual similarities to clams, you can spot the difference when the shell is viewed sideways. A cockle has a rounded, heart-shaped shell with a slightly ribbed texture, while a clam is typically smoother and ridgeless. 

But that’s not all. There’s more differences when it comes to cockles vs clams: Clams can live in both saltwater and freshwater, and cockles can live in only salt water areas. Cockles do not share the briny “ocean” flavor that clams, oysters, and other foods of that ilk possess. However, small clams have been known to function as a substitute for cockles in recipes, and vice versa. If you disagree, feel free to take legal action in “small clams court.”

What do cockles taste like?

Cockles are tender with a mildly sweet, salty, and buttery flavor. As stated before, what truly distinguishes cockles from other bivalves like clams and mussels is the distinct lack of “ocean” flavor; they are delicately sweet with a clean saltiness. So, if you’re looking for brine, you’ll have to keep a glass of it on hand to swig in between bites! 

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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