Deep-fried cockles with chilli-salt and vinegar

This is a great snack to make as a starter for friends! The crunchy, spicy batter gives way to the sweet and meaty cockle at the centre and makes for the perfect pre-dinner nibble. It can be a little messy to prepare, and we recommend using vegetable oil for frying as it doesn’t have a strong flavour and is cheaper to use in large quantities than other oils.


  • 150ml white wine
  • 1.5kg cockles (shells-on!)
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g cornflour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 125-150ml beer - ideally a light local lager
  • Vegetable oil (for deep frying)
  • Malt vinegar
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp hot chilli powder


  1. Mix the flour, cornflour and baking powder together in a bowl with some salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the beer, making sure you break apart any lumps, until it forms a good consistency for coating.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix the chilli powder, sea salt and smoked paprika together. For the best results, try to grind them together with the back of a spoon or a pestle and mortar.
  3. Take a wok or a deep frying pan and fill it up with 1½ inches of vegetable oil. Heat to 180°C (if you have no thermometer, you can test to see if your oil is hot enough by dropping a cube of bread in it - the bread should turn brown in 30 seconds or less!)
  4. Tip the cockle meat into the beer batter and mix well, ensuring each piece is well coated. One by one, drop the cockles into the hot oil and fry in small batches for 3-4 minutes or until really crisp. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon, drain on some kitchen roll and sprinkle with the spicy salt!
  5. Serve piping hot with some malt vinegar.