I’ve never been one to kill my dinner, though as regular blog readers know, I’ve made exceptions when it comes to lobster. However, we also tried two other live shellfish on our trek to Maine last month–steamed mussels (coming soon) and clams.
Live clams are gross.
They have these little finger-shaped things that stick out and sort of flop and leak seawater, and frankly the most accurate and vivid descriptions I can come up with for them aren’t really appropriate for a family blog. What’s cool, though, is that if you tap the tip of these mouths, they come to life! They stiffen up, spit water, and contract a little. Tap them again with just a little bit of pressure and they retract back into the shell. It took a few minutes of playing around with them to figure out exactly how they worked, but once I got the hang of it, it was fun. Mr. N especially got a kick out of it, and liked making them squirt water. The fun outweighs the grossness, and to our friend Kelly over at Inspired Edibles, we hope you have a chance and the fortitude to try cooking live clams on your forthcoming trip to Maine.
The first time we went to buy clams, we stopped at a roadside stand called Tracey’s Seafood and, having never done live clams, had no real good idea how to buy them. The recipe we had called for four pounds, but we saw on the sign that lobsters were $5/lb and clams were $14.95/pint. I ordered two pints from the window, then you had to go inside to get the lobsters. When I had the lobsters, I went back to the window to pick up the clams, and lo and behold, they were fried, not live. My bad.
We took them back to the cabin anyway–it wasn’t their fault. Two pints of fried clams is a lot, and we were still early enough in our vacation that we were trying to watch our diets. Tracey’s fried clams put an end to that, and we put an end to Tracey’s fried clams. They were phenomenal, easily the best fried clams I’ve ever had. Live clams would have to wait for another day.
Fortunately, the wait was short. We picked up our four pounds of clams for much less than $14.95/pint, and set them in a mix of salt water and cornmeal. This irritates them and makes them vomit sand. Like I said, clams are gross.
After the cornmeal does its job, you need to tap the mouths back into the shells. All of ours retracted easily. You can see the mouth sticking straight out of the top of the right-most clam in this picture:
The next step is to boil them in batches, just until the shells split open, and then you’re done.
We served ours alongside Mussels and our favorite cheddar-garlic biscuits.
A little butter on the side made for good dipping sauce.
Mr. N was more than excited to see exactly what the inside of these things was all about, and he ate ‘em up.
Even Ms. A dug right in. Note the mostly empty plate.
You’ll have to stay tuned to find out how the mussels went over, but the clams were a big hit all around. Four spoons from Mr. N and me, but Kristy had to dock them a spoon for the gross factor, so she joined Ms. A at three spoons.
Print this recipe: Steamers