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May 21, 2013 09:12 AM

Suggestions on cooking sea cicadas

Beach season is coming up and i remembered gathering sea cicadas and these tiny clams we kept finding in the water with my brother and cousins. I ate the clams raw, right on the beach and blamed the seagulls lol. They were quite sweet and i believe they were coquinos but i felt weird about bringing home some strange creatures to eat and left the sea cicadas. I saw Andrew Zimmern eating these on Bizarre Foods and they actually looked delicious. During the segment, they removed the legs, dusted with cornstarch, and fried.
Im going to gather them this year and experiment. Im thinking frying them dredged in flour and topped with a garlic-herb Vinaigrette along with fresh pasta (perhaps made with the small coquino clams) would make a great dinner.

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  1. I remember seeing that episode...those suckers looked delicious!

    Taco flavored kisses honey!

    1 Reply
    1. re: joonjoon

      Taco taco, burrito burrito

      I used to catch these all the time as a kid, never once thought to eat them. Now I am salivating....

    2. They get to be so abundant during summers here in California. Where are you located? Since they are filter feeders, be sure to understand the waters from where you're collecting them.

      Never tried 'em but dredged and fried looks pretty good to me! I would squeeze lemon on them and dip them in a spicy/sweet chili sauce.

      1. Too funny. I actually did take a handful of them home to cook them once. Since I don't think we're allowed to link to our own blog posts, here's a recipe excerpt:


        Almost certain to be enough to serve the very limited number of people in your life who won't run away and retch at the thought of eating it.

        When I first moved to Oceanside and found these critters washed up alive in the sand at the beach, I was reminded of something I had several years ago in Phuket that looked a lot like them. A couple weeks later, I watched Andrew Zimmern eating something very similar on a re-run of Bizarre Foods - Thailand and determined that if I were to find out these suckers were safely edible, which I did, I'd grab a handful the next time I could, and cook them up. Which I also did.

        - a handful of sand fleas, soaked and rinsed thoroughly, 4 or 5 times, to get rid of all that sand
        - 1 clove garlic, minced
        - 2 teaspoons fish sauce
        - 1 Tablespoon brown sugar

        - 3 Tablespoons oil for frying

        - 1 wedge of lime to squeeze over the sand crabs before eating

        1) Rinse your handful of sand fleas well and thoroughly, several times, in order to get the sand off their little sand flea persons.

        I think I changed the water about five times to get them clean enough to eat.

        2) Put them in the fridge for about 20 minutes so they'll fall asleep. *Zzzzzzzzzzzzz...*

        3) Make your chili garlic sauce by mixing the chili garlic paste, minced garlic, fish sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl.

        4) Heat your oil in a wok over high heat until it's screamin/smokin hot and throw your fleas in.

        5) Stir fry them critters 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shells turn completely orange and have been orange for 20 seconds or so.

        6) Pour in your chili garlic sauce and toss them little roaches til they're evenly coated.

        7) Serve with a healthy squeeze of lime juice and a lot of frosty cold Singha which most of your guests will likely need in order to be able to choke one of these suckers down.

        In all seriousness, they taste a lot like little shrimp crossed with soft shell crab if they were deep fried with the shell on and didn't have a lot of meat. Sweet, spicy, sticky, crunchy. Pretty decent beer food if you're not too skeeved by the idea of it to reframe it as food.

        Really, folks. It's just a crustacean. Try getting me to eat a cockroach, though, and that's a whole 'nother story.


        1 Reply
        1. re: inaplasticcup

          looks great.

          They do remind me of crabs,,,, but when they start moving their legs really quickly in your hand, i get creeped out.

        2. Coquina clams and sand fleas. Also known as free bait on Florida beaches.

          Unless you like eating sand, they need some serious purging. Put them in a couple gallons of ocean water with a cup or so of grits or flour mixed in. Scoop them out, throw out the sludge . Repeat. And repeat again.

          Steam or boil coquinas using fresh water. Season water to taste for coquina broth. Put meat in butter and a trace of garlic and add to angel hair pasta.

          I have used sand fleas to add flavor to a seafood stock. They are more shell than anything else. I have eaten them out of the broth, but the shell to meat ratio is pretty bad.

          If you don't like eating shrimp with the head and shell on, you will definately not take to these.

          1 Reply
          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

            haha. Yeah...this isn't going to be a regular on the menu. Though it has never occurred to me to remove the shell. When i saw it on Bizarre Foods, it seemed they treated it like a soft shell crab, and aside from removing the legs, ate it whole. I realize that coquinos aren't really worth harvesting for their meat, but might as well if im gathering food on the beach. I dont expect much of this...just an experiment.