Clams, Pipi & Vongole
Cockle, Pipi, Surf Clam, Baby Clam, Vongole
Surf Clams, Pipis and Vongole are sold live, often all under the name Clam. They are a coastal and estuarine bivalve, with the meat being the whole muscle inside the shell.
Different species are harvested along the entire coasts of Australia, mostly by highly targeted hand methods such as 'raking'. These methods have little to no by-catch associated with them. Supply can fluctuate seasonally, the SA fishery is closed from June to October when the Pipi's (often marketed as Coorong Pipi or Goolwa Cockles) spawn.
'Baby Clams' might be an imported product from chinese aquaculture. Remember that fishmongers are legally required to state the place of origin in their product labelling.
|Government Stock Assessment|
|SA||Sustainable||Better Choice||Pipi’s from SA’s Younghusband
Peninsula (marketed as Coorong
Pipis or Goolwa Pipis) are
Certified by the MSC
|SA (Coffin Bay + west coast)||Depleting||Better Choice||–|
|What do these terms mean?|
The why and how of sustainability
Most harvesting occurs by hand and can be regulated locally by a system of quotas and closed seasons. Stock populations fluctuate year-to-year. NSW DPI declares the Exploitation Status of cockles, incl. surf clams and several varieties of cockle commonly marketed as vongole as UNDEFINED. For more info about species of cockle/vongole caught in NSW see HERE
Preparation and cooking
All Surf Clams, Pipi’s and Vongole require purging to remove the fine sand or grit inside the shell. To do this, place in lightly salted cool water for several hours or overnight. Your fishmonger might have done this for you.If you’re buying vacuum-packed product, such as the widely available 1kg bags produced by ‘Goolwa Pipi Co.’, this purging will already have been done.
These bivalves respond well to brief cooking. Cook only until the shells open to prevent the meat from shrivelling and becoming tough. Steam or poach with asian flavours, BBQ, or open with white wine or stock before tossing through a pasta, soup or curry.