Stiffkey Blue Cockles

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Stiffkey is a small village in North Norfolk. The geography of this region helped creating perfect conditions for cockles: nowadays they can be found a few kilometers north of Stiffkey, on the seaward side of a saltmarsh, where muddy creeks flooded with tide create a good habitat for them to live in. They are usually buried an inch under the muddy sand, and traditionally they were raked from the mud by the women and then washed in seawater, and it is still like this that the Stiffkey fishermen and inhabitants collect them. Some fishermen add flour or oatmeal to assist this process.

The Stiffkey Blue Cockles have long been considered a delicacy in East England, but unfortunately, the cold winter of 1989 killed many cockles and its trade has never really recovered.
Once called Stewkey blues of bluestones, they indeed have a different colour from other types of cockles. When they colonise, they give the shells of a distinctive blue tinge, ranging from mauve to slate-blue. Its colour has always been thought noteworthy and this is why it is mentioned in their name. They have a rich shellfish flavour, refreshing and slightly salty.
Stiffkey cockles open when they are steamed, and are eaten fresh, or used for soups and pies. Traditional seaside style is to boil and sell from stalls, with pepper and vinegar to taste.
It is unfortunately recognized that, year by year, the number of Stiffkey cockles declines.

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Fish, sea food and fish products

Nominated by:Umberto Locatelli