Chefs' Recipes

Cockles with samphire and chill-garlic oil

With shellfish and mildly salty samphire, this dish tastes like the seaside.

By Amy Hamilton
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 10 mins cooking plus soaking
  • Serves 4 - 6
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"I'm lucky enough to live in a part of the world where on the same afternoon my kids and I can walk to the river, pluck a few cockles out of the water, pick samphire from the nearby shoreline, wander home and cook this dish for tea," says Amy Hamilton of Liberté restaurant in Albany, WA. "Samphire has a crunch and a saltiness that's perfect with seafood. Try this dish with mussels, yabbies, periwinkles and prawns."


  • 75 gm fine salt
  • 1 kg cockles or clams, cleaned
  • 2 long red chillies, thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup (loosely packed) samphire, tender tips only (see note)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp caster sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (or to taste)
  • ½ cup (loosely packed) Vietnamese mint or Thai basil, to serve
  • Baguette, to serve
Garlic oil
  • 200 ml canola or other neutral-flavoured oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced lengthways on a mandoline


  • 1
    Combine salt and 1 litre cold water in a large bowl and stir to dissolve. Add cockles or clams and soak to remove excess grit (30 minutes), drain well.
  • 2
    For garlic oil, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat to 170°C. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until golden and crisp (3-5 minutes). Remove garlic with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Strain oil through a fine metal sieve, then cool.
  • 3
    Heat 50ml garlic oil in a wok or a deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Add chilli and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant (10-20 seconds). Add cockles and samphire and toss until cockles open, adding a couple of tablespoons of water if needed to prevent garlic and chilli from scorching (4-7 minutes). Add fish sauce, sugar and lemon, seasoning to taste and tossing to combine. Serve topped with herbs and fried garlic chips, with baguette on the side.


Samphire is available from select greengrocers.
Drink suggestion: A wild, salty, sour beer such as Wildflower Brewing Solera. Drink suggestion by Keryn Giles.