Vongole is the Italian word for cockles and pipis. When I lived in South Australia there were large succulent cockles that come from Goolwa, Middleton and the Coorong. In Victoria we call them pipis and they are found around the southern Victorian coastline.
Before you get excited about harvesting cockles from beaches you need to be aware that there are strong regulations for the harvest of these succulent little morsels because their numbers have been reduced significantly. It is positive to see that restrictions have been placed on the mechanical harvesting and numbers of licenses issued for the commercial fishing of cockles and there are now open and closed seasons to allow some of the stock to recuperate.
The above applies in South Australia and in Victoria and may be the case in other Australian states and in other parts of the world and it does not apply only to commercial fishers.
From Fisheries Victoria:
Although it is recognised in both states that fishers and families from a diverse range of backgrounds enjoy collecting pipis, either for food or bait, The reduced catch limit will help to ensure that access is shared among recreational collectors.
(The reduced daily catch limit of 2 litres with shells and half a litre without shells).
From Australian Marine Conservation Society (think twice classification):Cockles and Pipis
Notes: Harvested by hand from mud and sand flats; impact of intense localised harvesting unknown; uncertain stock status for all species; significant population fluctuations due to environmental factors; Pipi catches and catch rates in NSW have declined significantly in recent years.
I bought 1 kilo and fed 4 people. As much as I like this dish, (and so did my guests), this is all I will eat this season- it will help me to appreciate them even more next season.
I use a large frypan to ensure more even cooking.
extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup
garlic, 3-4 cloves crushed
chili flakes or 1 fresh, red, deseeded and chopped finely
parsley, 1 cup, cut finely
dry white wine
Rinse the vongole, rubbing to remove sand, and discard any open ones that don’t close after being gently squeezed or tapped (see above).
Cook the pasta.
Heat the olive oil then fry the garlic and chili lightly.
Add the vongole and parsley and shake pot for 1-2 minutes.
Add wine, cover and gently cook for a few minutes until the cockles are open — discard any that are not open and those that are empty.
Remove some cockle meat from the shells for ease of eating (I do not always do this).
Drain the pasta and combine with the vongole. Gently mix the spaghetti through the sauce.