From Wheelbarrow to Tins
Remember humming the Irish ballad about Molly Malone? She’s the legendary fishmonger, who “wheeled her wheelbarrow through streets broad and narrow, crying cockles and mussels, alive, alive-o.” It is said she still wanders the streets of Dublin, but I didn’t see her when I was last there.
For those that are curious about the busty fishmonger, there’s an under-clad statue of her in Dublin, that would never pass the morality test in Florida.
If you don’t come upon the ghost of ol’ Molly and her cart, there’s always Parker’s Table, where you can indulge in a tin of cockles or one of mussels.
So, What’s the Difference?
Mussels: This bivalve is attached to the rocks by threads that stick out from the shell. They’re tender with a mild, sweet salty and buttery flavor. There’s no briny, ocean flavor.
Cockles: Unlike mussels, these baby clams are free living in sandy and muddy areas. They’re so sweet they can eaten from the tin. Or you can add lemon juice and parsley or a pasta sauce. Cockle aficionados favor the sweet, tasty ones from New Zealand.
Cockles pair well with scallop and a lemon-butter sauce. Or simply toss them in garlic butter with white wine and parsley.
Cyndy is especially fond of the Matiz cockles and mussels packed in Spain and considered by many to be the best of Mediterranean cuisine.
Noodles With White Clam Sauce
- 3 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 -3 (8 oz.) cans minced clams with juice.
- (Optional): Add 1 -2 tins of good quality canned
- Mussels in olive oil and vinegar
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (or clam juice)
- 1 Tbs. minced parsley
- 2 tsp. basil
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 2 Tbs. butter
- 1 lb. favorite pasta noodles, cooked, drained
- lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
- Freshly grated Parmesan, to taste
Heat oil in large skillet. Add onion and garlic. Sauté over medium heat until slightly golden. Drain clam liquid (and mussel liquid if using) into onion mixture. Stir in white wine or extra clam juice. Simmer about 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in clams (and canned mussels, if using), parsley, basil & pepper, heating thoroughly. Add butter, stirring to melt. Stir in fresh lemon juice. Spoon mixture over hot, cooked pasta noodles and add freshly grated parmesan. Serve immediately. Makes 4-5 servings.
Note: Use your favorite cans of chopped or whole clams and 1 -2 cans of “Matiz” mussels in olive oil and vinegar and 1/2 cup of white wine. “Matiz” wild cockles (baby clams) in tin with sea salt brine are an excellent addition.