Catching and cooking pipis

Catching and cooking pipis

Pipis are one of the best tasting wild foods you could wish for and catching them is a fun outing for the whole family.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people know pipis taste good, yet they never bother to go and collect them. As far as I am concerned they are missing out on one of the ocean’s tastiest treats.

I just love pipis and often hit the local beaches to gather a feed of these delectable little shellfish.

Recently my kids and I went down to Ella Bay to find some and conditions looked good when we arrived: the tide was about half in and there was a gentle swell sweeping in and out along the foreshore.

It is in this inter-tidal zone that pipis are easiest to find.

As the receding waves expose them before they stand on end and frantically bury themselves back in the sand before the next wave washes over them.

Pipis tend to favour certain sections of a beach, so we walked north for about ten minutes before reaching our “regular” spot. After a long day at work, the feel of sand between my toes and the smell of the clean, salty breeze off the Coral Sea were heaven-sent. And there wasn’t another person in sight besides us.


Once we reached our spot, all eyes started scanning where the waves were breaking, looking for the first pipi of the afternoon. It didn’t take long before an outgoing wave revealed a half-dozen shells racing to bury themselves back into the golden sands.

“There kids, quick,” I said pointing and they bolted over to grab as many as they could before they disappeared.

And so the pattern began and was repeated until we had about forty of them in the bottom of our bucket.


It’s important to make sure you half fill the bucket with seawater and let them sit in this for about 2-3 hours so they can spit out any sand they have inside their shell. Sometimes you still get the odd bit of grit when you eat them, but hey, this is real food right?

I can’t believe just how much my kids enjoy it – especially my daughter. Usually, I have to fight with her to get away from her room and iPad.

Ask “who wants to go looking for pipis” though, and she is the first one in the car.



So, we’ve got some pipis, now what do we do? Eat them of course! There are many ways to cook pipis but let’s try something really simple.

Cooking Pipis in garlic, parsley and butter


40 pipis

Half a stick (100 grams) butter

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 cup of chopped parsley

Lemon wedge

What to do

Melt butter in frying pan over medium/high heat. Crush or finely chop garlic and add.

Throw the pipis, stir and cover frying pan with a lid. Check every 30 seconds or so and remove the pipis as they open their shells.

Place these on a plate, sprinkle with chopped parsley and squeeze lemon juice over them. Then all you do is use a fork to pick out the meat inside the shell.


Note: Check with your local Fisheries Department on rules and regulations on collecting pipis in your area before heading down to the beach.


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