Austrovenus stutchburyi, or New Zealand cockle, or New Zealand little neck clam, is a bivalve mollusc of the family Veneridae, endemic to New Zealand. It is very common in intertidal mudflats.
Identification & Biology: The shell is solid and rotund, sculptured with numerous strong rounded radial ribs, overridden by crisp weak lamellae. Coloration is whitish, tinged at the posterior end with pale purplish-brown, and internally whitish, stained posteriorly with dark purplish-violet.
The cockle or tuangi (Austrovenus stutchburyi) is a shallow-burrowing shellfish, found from subtidal to mid-tide levels. It is not related to the northern hemisphere cockle, and is found only in New Zealand waters. The cockle is one of the most important creatures of the estuary: it provides food and modifies the habitat, playing a critical role in filtering water.
Range & Habitat: Cockles are very similar to clams. Most of the cockles sold in the U.S. are flown in live from New Zealand. Cockles from New Zealand’s South Island are larger (15 per pound) than cockles from the North Island (20-25 per pound).
Market Description: The meats are large and succulent, with a fresh briny flavor that works with dishes from the Mediterranean to the Orient.
Recommended Preparation: Prepare as you would domestic littleneck clams, purging in salt water and cooking just until they open.