You can get both kinds of shellfish throughout most of the year, but they are best from late fall until early summer. Cockles are sweeter than clams and have more meat; clams have a more pronounced taste. The shells should smell of fresh seawater when you buy them. If they have an unpleasant smell and the bag is slimy when you grab it, don’t buy them.
Rinsing the sand from between the shells is very important. You can do this by soaking them in clean, salted water before cooking. The shells will open up and spit out the sand. This recipe can easily be ruined by getting sand between your teeth when you eat the shellfish. We sometimes ask our fishmonger to place a net of shellfish in the lobster basin overnight. That way you get them super clean.
SERVES 4 AS A STARTER
Place each kind of shellfish in a container with the salted water. Let them rest for at least 15 minutes, then rinse them twice under running water.
Fire up the kamado with the grid to 425°F (220°C) and create three hot spots. Place the grill wok on the grid and wait until it is hot.
Check after about 2 minutes whether all the shells are open by stirring them with a slotted spoon or tongs. If you like your shellfish nearly raw, take the wok out of the kamado once they’ve just opened up. If you want them cooked thoroughly, grill them for another 1 to 2 minutes. When you grill them for too long, you risk the meat becoming tough.
Scoop the shellfish into a deep bowl. Season them with a grind of pepper and sprinkle them with the parsley. The shellfish remain quite salty during cooking, so there’s no need to add salt.
This is a basic recipe that can, of course, be varied endlessly with garlic oil, dressings and mayonnaises.