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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Amande de Mer. The Sea Almond or Dog Cockle. A Tasty Clam on French Menus.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Updated 2016

The sea almond shell.
Photograph by Cristophe Quintin
    Amande de Mer, Amande Marbrée or Amande - The sea almond or dog cockle is a clam, and often part of a fresh seafood platter. These clams may be on French seafood restaurant menus as “amandes” which can cause some confusion for visitors; especially if the visitor is using a French - English travel dictionary. In dictionaries, the word "amandes" will usually be translated as almonds, the nut and that is correct; nevertheless, seafood restaurants have their own usage which the French diner will understand.
   When dog cockles are on the menu on their own then they are often lightly fried with garlic, and parsley butter or stuffed; this is a tasty clam, and so chefs have many options.

Dog cockles on French Menus:
 Amandes de Mer Farcies au Fromage –  Dog cockles stuffed with cheese and lightly baked.

Assiette de Fruits de Mer (crevettes roses et grises, bulots, amandes, langoustines, huîtres bretonnes) – A platter of seafood: pink and gray shrimps, whelks, dog cockles, Dublin Bay Prawns and oysters from Brittany
Cannelloni d'Amandes de Mer et St-Jacques, Sauce Vierge Cannelloni, the tube-shaped pasta; here it is prepared with the meat of the sea almond and the meat of the King scallop and served with a sauce vierge.  A sauce vierge is made with virgin olive oil, herbs, and wine vinegar.


Spaghettis à l'Encre de Seiche aux Amande de Mer
Spaghetti flavored and colored with cuttlefish ink and served with sea dog cockles.
Photograph by Zole4 through

Duo de Moules et Amandes de Mer Farcies au Beurre d'Épinard et Parmesan A matched serving of mussels and dog cockles prepared with buttered spinach and Parmesan cheese.

The sea almond is not the most popular clam in France since it is a little tougher than others, but it is a very tasty clam and has its own  fan base; this clam is also considered a prime candidate for an escabeche.

The sea almond on sale in a French market.
Photograph courtesy of  Vergile Vebrel.
The sea almond shell is easily recognized; it has ridges, but the shell itself is relatively smooth. These clams can be up to 6 cm (2.3”) across and usually are colored a pale brown to yellow-brown with clear markings.

A new cockle boat being lowered into the water.
Photograph by courtesy of David Wright.
Remember, if an amande or amandes are on a regular menu, then they will be indicating the nut, the almond, not the clam, but on a seafood menu amandes are seafood restaurant shorthand for the amande de mer. Make sure what you are ordering!

 The Sea Almond or Dog Cockle in the languages of France's neighbors:

(Catalan – ràbia), (Dutch - gewone marmerschelp), (German- meermandel, gemeine samtmusche), (Italian - pie' d'asino), (Spanish - almendra de mer).    
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Bryan G Newman
Behind the French Menu
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For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman