Five Favourite Foraged Seafood Species

Rebecca Varidel
21st Apr 2024

The tradition of eating seafood is as old as our country itself. Before colonial settlement, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples lived sustainably off Australian lands and waters for thousands of years.

Indigenous Australians not only foraged for a range of species, but also developed sophisticated infrastructure such as traps, nets, and stone weirs to sustainably fish Australia's estuary systems. From cockles to oysters, foraged seafood is responsibly sourced, diverse, and most of all delicious.

Here are five of our favourite foraged species that we think you should try (if you haven’t already)!

Cockles and Pipis

Indigenous Australians have harvested Pipi (also known as Goolwa Cockles in South Australia) for the past 10,000 years. Many Australians, Indigenous or not, have childhood memories of digging through the sand for Pipi or Periwinkles on family holidays or at their local beach.

The great news is that these various foraged bivalves have not lost any of their deliciousness since then. Commercially, all of the supply of these bivalve species is hand-harvested – much by Indigenous Australians, in places such as Eden – meaning that this industry is a truly artisanal one to this day.

Recipe >> Pipis In Black Bean Sauce

Periwinkles and Turban Shells

Australia's coastline is home to a range of sea snails, with the most popular for eating being Periwinkles and Turban Shells. Those who turn their nose up at eating snails are encouraged to think of France's national dish, and reconsider their position – these little guys are delicious!

Periwinkles are harvested by hand from intertidal zones around the entire Australian coast, while Turban Shells are mostly harvested by divers off eastern Tasmania, with some excellent fishers of note working on the mid-North coast of NSW. Supply of these species is limited to ensure their populations stay strong, so if you find them in a retailer at Sydney Fish Market, consider it your lucky day.

Take them home, boil or steam them in their shells for about 10 minutes (until the meat can be extracted using a fork, pin, or special pick), then serve with lashings of butter and garlic, a zingy dressing, in salads, or as a pickle.

Recipe >> Periwinkles With Aioli


Before oysters were considered a luxury, they were a valuable food source for many Indigenous Australian communities. These communities historically collected oysters from rocky shores, estuaries and tidal flats. There has even been evidence found by scientists that some Aboriginal groups may have farmed oysters! Everyone loves an oyster, but these dressings will really take yours to the next level...

Recipe >> Oysters With Asian Dressing


Once you’ve graduated from the above species, and you're feeling like your life lacks adventure, you’re ready to forage octopus. You’ll be part of a tradition that stretches as far back as inhabited Australia. The only problem is that you are now on the trail of arguably the ocean’s most versatile and intelligent creatures...

Recipe >> Deep Fried Salt + Pepper Octopus

Sea Urchins

We Aussies truly don't know how lucky we are to have a near-endless supply of cheap Sea Urchin on our doorstep. One of the most highly prized seafood species in the world, a bowl of Uni and rice could set you back up to $40 in Tokyo, while a fresh, live one will sell for around only $5 each at Sydney Fish Market!

Recipe from Sea Urchin Harvest >> Sea Urchin with Osetra Caviar, Coconut Cream, Coriander Oil, Radish & Cashew

At Sydney Seafood School you can learn how to cook these foraged species

Sydney Seafood School is proud to showcase some of Australia's most amazing Indigenous food talent - from chefs to producers to educators - in our First Nations Seafood series.

In the next hands-on Masterclass, Damien Coulthard and Rebecca Sullivan of Warndu, take a deep dive into native ingredients and how to incorporate them into dishes that are local and seasonal in the truest sense of these words. You’ll learn all about a wide range of endemic plants, proteins, and ingredients as well as how to source these ingredients responsibly, supporting Indigenous-owned businesses.