New Zealand cockles are members of the Veneridae family. Cockles are very similar to clams. Most of the cockles sold in the U.S. are flown in live from New Zealand.
Cockles are widespread in New Zealand harbors and estuaries. They are found in sediments ranging from soft mud to soft, silty sand, they often form dense beds that contain cockles of similar size. Cockles dig a shallow burrow into the seabed.
Cockles have plump, round shells with fine ridges that run in two directions. Usually purple on the inside, they have a delicate cream colored flesh with a low oil content. The meat is small in proportion to shell weight, but the succulent meats have a fresh briny flavor that works well with many dishes.