Digging for Dinner

One of my fondest memories of that glorious New Zealand summer I spent WWOOFing in Golden Bay nine years ago was harvesting wild, saltwater clams (also known as cockles).  At low tide, a trove of this sea delight would be foraged from the vast sandy beaches of the bay and mixed into delicious pastas or simply steamed and enjoyed on their own.

It was a special treat to share this experience with Trey on our first evening in the bay and especially fortunate that our first eve landed on a full moon.  The lunar cycle laid bare an especially wide beach on which to clam.  We had the pleasure of meeting Mike, a local who shared with us his method for clamming and even one of his favorite recipes for a simple steamed clam, which we improvised for our supper.


Simple, fresh steamed clams:


-       As many clams as your fortunate to find and care to consume

-       Handful of coarsely chopped herbs (we found thyme and rosemary by the sea)

-       1-2 tbsp butter of your choice (we played it local with some organic, grass-fed NZ butter – delicious!)

-       2-3 cups dry white wine (naturally a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc made its way into our pot)


-       Place clams in cold water for 20 minutes and then drain water (this aids in releasing sand from the mollusk’s shell)

-       In heavy pot with lid, melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter on medium heat, add herbs and let the flavors meld 2-3 minutes

-       Add clams and coat with butter mixture

-       Pour in white wine until clams are completely covered

-       Allow clams to steam for 4 minutes, make sure all shells have opened.  This means that they are completely cooked through and safe to eat.  Discard any unopened shells. 

Serve in a bowl with a bit of the stock and your favorite bread* to sop up the deliciousness! 

*We found the most delicious organic, six grain, gluten and dairy free bread (Vogel’s) in the supermarket here that we’ll be on the lookout for from now on!