Soy-candied cockles

  • Side
  • 10-12
  • 30 minutes
Not yet rated

As Tim Anderson notes below, these soy-candied cockles (or zarugai no tsukudani) are almost like a jam. They are intensely salty, a little sweet, and very easy to make. Since they are so salty, you only need to eat a small amount with rice at a time, but they last for up to a month in a sterilised jar in the fridge.

Extracted from JapanEasy Bowls & Bento by Tim Anderson (Hardie Grant, £25), Photography ©Laura Edwards

First published in 2022

Tim Anderson says, “​​Tsukudani is here in the pickle section, but is it a pickle? It isn’t soured by vinegar or fermentation, but it is preserved, and it occupies a similar sort of space as pickles in Japanese meals: as a strongly-flavoured side, or as something to enliven rice. But tsukudani (named for Tsukuda, the area of Tokyo in which its production began) is more like a jam – a salty, salty jam. Basically, this method of preservation involves boiling various ingredients, typically seaweeds and seafood, in a mixture of sugar, mirin, sake and soy sauce until everything reduces down to a syrupy, blackish mass of concentrated deliciousness. I made this cockle tsukudani for the first time a few years ago and served it to an actual cockle farmer in Essex. His assessment: ‘They taste like cockle liquorice.’ This was not intended as a compliment. But I don’t care – these are sweet, glistening jewels of intense, meaty shellfish flavour and I won’t hear a bad word about them. Just a little spoonful on a bowl of hot rice; I am in liquoricey cockle heaven!”






Combine all of the ingredients in a saucepan along with enough water to cover by about 2.5cm


Bring to the boil and then keep boiling, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces all the way down to virtually nothing, with the consistency of a very thick syrup. At the end of this process, you should stir it more frequently to prevent burning


When the liquid is thick and jammy, remove from the pan and leave to cool before packing into a sterilised jar and keeping in the refrigerator for up to one month. Serve at any temperature

First published in 2022

Tim Anderson is a chef, writer, restaurateur, and MasterChef champion.

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