The Common Edible Cockle (Cerastoderma edulis) is another of the classic fishery products of Galicia. It is a small mollusk, only 3 or 4 centimeters (1 ½ inches) long, which lies at the bottom of the sandy sea in the intertidal zones or at the mouth of the rivers. They have valves or shells almost circular, with 22 to 38 ribs well marked on them. For the reason of his heart form, it was for what in the beginning was given the name of “edible heart” (cardium edule).
They are captured by hand, with stems on firm foot, or with rakes afloat. It is very abundant and comes mainly from extractions in Galicia, although there is a small quota (almost always preserved or frozen) from Holland, Denmark and Portugal. It has to be taken into account that the cockle has difficulties in resisting the transport and by the tact one must be careful and always keep it in a cool place. An open cockle is a dead cockle.
The Galician Rías provide the perfect ecosystem for them. With a characteristic brackish flavor, they have a high nutritional value, especially with a high content of vitamins and minerals, which is maintained during the canning process. They are mostly full in brine. In addition to being served as a tapa with a few drops of lemon juice, they are also an essential ingredient in certain dishes such as Galician cockles (empanada, mainly corn), or stews. Another way to cook them is with rice.
Another canned product is tuberculate cockle (Acanthocardia tuberculata). These are larger than cockles, measuring five to nine centimeters (2-3 “), and have a thick, cream-colored shell with pink or brown spots. They should be eaten directly from the can, to take advantage of the whole Taste of the sea.