Learning > Recipes

Hed Chef: Spicy tangy cockles with Thai basil

Hedy Khoo on 20 Sep 2018

The New Paper


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Bogged down by work with no time for a quick getaway?


You don't need a plane ride to warm your heart with these Cambodian-style cockles.


The spicy and tangy tamarind sauce not only whets the appetite but is also less cloying.


Cockles are inexpensive and practically stress-free to cook.


The most difficult part of this recipe for me was plucking Thai basil leaves off their stems.


To make things even easier, get cockles on the half shell and save yourself the hassle of prising them open when eating.


These cost a lot more but how often do you eat cockles anyway? So go ahead and splurge.




  • 130g tamarind pulp
  • 200ml water
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp cooking oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 shallots, chopped
  • 1 lemongrass (use 5cm of the white root part), finely sliced
  • 1 red finger chilli, sliced
  • 1 green finger chilli, sliced
  • 2 red chilli padi, sliced
  • 3 green chilli padi, sliced
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1kg cockles on half shell
  • 50g Thai basil leaves




1. Place the tamarind pulp in a bowl and add the water. Use a spoon to mix the tamarind pulp with the water.


2. Add the sugar to the tamarind mixture. Stir well and set aside.


3. Heat the oil in a wok, add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds over medium heat.


4. Add the shallots and fry for another 30 seconds.


5. Add the lemongrass and fry for 30 seconds.


6. Add all the sliced finger chillies and chilli padi into the wok. Stir-fry for 20 seconds and add the tamarind mixture. Mix well.


7. Once the mixture begins to simmer, add in the oyster sauce, fish sauce and salt.


8. Stir well and add in the cockles.


9. Cook for one minute.


10. Add in the basil leaves and stir briefly for 10 seconds before transferring the cockles into a serving dish. Serve immediately.


Source: The New Paper © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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