Blood Cockles

19 Oct

Cooked cockles

Since my parents live in Hawaii, they aren’t as impressed by Malaysia’s “exotic” tropical fruits and vegetables. (When I served four-angle bean, the freakiest vegetable I could think of, my mother’s response was, “Oh, I saw that at the farmer’s market the other weekend.”)

Luckily, I could still wow them with Malaysia’s bounty of fruit des mer (or at least my mom, the seafood lover). Not that Hawaii lacks for delicious marine creatures, of course, but the species are quite different. I picked up a bag of blood cockles, or kerang as they’re called here, at the market. They were so fresh that some of them were still alive.

Blood cockles get their macabre name from the orange-red color of their flesh, produced by high levels of hemoglobin. The color is more pronounced before cooking (I forgot to get a shot in the heat of the kitchen). I don’t know that I’d call it a blood color, though, more like rust, or maybe liver. But I guess “liver cockles” doesn’t have quite the same ring. They’re probably the most common mollusk in Malaysian cooking and very common across Southeast Asia, but not so much elsewhere. You’ll find them in noodle dishes like char kway teow and curry mee, and in the previously sampled “Malaccan oyster omelet” (which, oddly, I didn’t see for sale in Malacca).

You can also opt to eat them boiled and make your guests do the hard work of shucking them. (They’re tasty, but small, so the shucking time to eating time ratio is kind of large.) That’s the approach I took. As for flavor? A lot like an extremely tiny oyster, with a distinctly metallic — shall we say, even a little bloody? — tinge. Supposedly consumption has been linked to Hepatitis A, but you know what? So is eating any bivalve. (Raw.) And the last outbreak was like, in the ’80s. I think driving to buy the cockles poses greater health risks than eating them.

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One Response to “Blood Cockles”

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  1. Penang’s Best Char Kway Teow « Straight Out of Kampung - February 28, 2011

    […] know I’ve already blogged about char kway teow, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to post about the best char kway teow in Penang, a […]

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