Trash Fish: Meet the Cape Cod Blood Cockle

By Rich Garcia, award-winning chef and industry leader for his sustainable business practices. Crossposted from his blog. Follow him on Twitter @ChefRichGarcia.

bloodcockle3Trash Fish Dinner is sold out next week (while you can add yourself to the waitlist HERE), and I have decided to use a clam…..not just any clam, a clam that’s almost hard to talk about. Every time I say its name I watch the faces of horror I get. The rare but delicious Blood Clam.

Ask any well seasoned fishermen if they have ever tasted them….most will say, nope. But trust me, absolutely nothing wrong with eating them! Tonight at the hotel, raw on the half shell with lime and cilantro (South Americans use them for making a-la minute ceviche on the beaches with lime and cilantro).

Question I’ve been getting all day……Chef, do they really bleed? Well……Yes they do and so do traditional local clams.

They’re a local species to our waters, specifically and mostly found in the Cape Cod Bay but can be found up and down the eastern coast of the Americas, from Massachusetts to Brazil, they are named for their most distinguishing feature, vivid red blood that spills out when the clam is opened. Most clams, and other bivalves, have clear blood, but the blood clam’s blood contains hemoglobin.Which makes it subject to the blood diseases that afflict humans. Blood clams from China have been banned because they were found to have Hepatitis C.

bloodcockle4But don’t worry, our blood clams are safe! The clams here, which are found in the muddiest part of our local bays, are disease free and mostly sold to Asia as it is a delicacy but more importantly, much safer to eat from our waters, and also sold to South Americans, mostly Ecuadorians, who make ceviche out of them.

From a sustainability stand point, absolutely no issues with over fishing and when hand dug, very eco friendly. So a thumbs up from the New England Aquarium & the EDF.

We will be using them to make our interpretation of a traditional street food in Indonesia, Blood Cockle Satay. We are also using local Maine shrimp to make our version of a Sambal. So looking forward to this dish development process!

And I hope for those of you that were lucky to get a seat at the table next week….you enjoy them!

2013-02-28T14:06:03+00:00February 28th, 2013|Blog, Chefs + Cooking, Events, Sustainable Seafood|2 Comments

About the Author:


  1. tim June 21, 2013 at 12:51 pm

    Where can I catch blood cockles in East Coast? I live in New York City…I’d go to Cape Cod if I know where exactly it can be caught…please tell me! Thanks!!!!

  2. Paul S. Boyer July 1, 2013 at 8:52 am

    This clam looks like Anadara ovalis, which is sometimes called the Blood Ark. It is not really a cockle at all.
    The most abundant trash seafood is the alien invader Carcinus maenad, the Green Crab (in England called the Shore Crab). It is easily caught, and probably not protected. In fact, it is something of a pest, but makes a deliciopus bisque (soup). See Edible Seashore (2009), by John Wright, pp. 220-221

Leave A Comment