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pennbrew

Clam experts, lots of questions

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I've eaten clams all my life, raw, steamed, fried, in chowder, in pasta sauce, etc. Until recently, when I've started experimenting with seafood pizza, I've never personally handled them. I realize now how little I know about clams.

First, here's an example of what I'm doing (shrimp and clam white pizza):

gallery_15947_2995_40720.jpg

OK, I've been buying my clams from Wegmans, $0.46 each for cherrystone clams (I use about 8 or 10 per pizza). I steam them for about 2-3 minutes, just long enough to kill them so they're easier to open. Would they be better if uncooked, if so, what's the trick to opening them?

What determines how gritty they are? Sometimes when I buy them they are perfect, sometimes they are full of grit. Is there any way to tell the difference?

So when I open one, it looks like this:

gallery_15947_2995_51904.jpg

So here I show my ignorance of all the terms I hear about clams. What is the "neck"? What is the "belly"? What part is the "strip" (as in, fried clam strips)?

Also, each clam has a round, dark, mealy section within the body that sure looks like a pile of clam poop. What is that? is it edible?, I'm sure it's not removed in any of the preparations I've eaten. You can see what I'm talking about here:

gallery_15947_2995_8045.jpg

Thanks for any help/wisdom/insights you can impart to this clam neophyte.

---Guy

P.S. The pizza tastes as good, or better, than it looks. However it takes too d*mn long to make with my fumble-fingered handling of the clams.


Edited by pennbrew (log)

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Looks similar(though bigger) to our native cockles and ours are opened at the hinge and all is eaten(`cept the grit).


"It's true I crept the boards in my youth, but I never had it in my blood, and that's what so essential isn't it? The theatrical zeal in the veins. Alas, I have little more than vintage wine and memories." - Montague Withnail.

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when we were doing raw bars in the restaurant we would chill the clams about 30 min before opening- iced down real good or in the freezer.

grittiness is a function of where the clam came from. you might want to open over a strainer set on a bowl. that way you can also harvest the clam juice and the grit is caught in the strainer.

since you are using cherrystones there is no neck to speak of. necks and strips come from steamers- or longnecks or piss clams (and my brother-in-law and i have this argument all the time because he steams cherrystones and calls them steamers). think of them looking like mini geoducks. you do have bellies, though. that's that section that contains the alimentary canal and anything that the clams have been eating. you might try putting them in some water with cornmeal for a day or so but.....


Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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I believe you can eliminate some of the grit by placing the clams in a bowl of cold water with some corn meal in the fridge for a few hours. The clams will open up and "spit" out the dirt.

Clams are fantastic, I cook them all the time. Check Spanish recipes for clams in green sauce. Pretty traditional and excellent dish.

Alex

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when I make that pizza I scrub the shells of the clams and then put the whole clam on top of the pizza then when the pizza bakes the clam pops open ..it looks good ..tastes wonderful ..you just lift he shell up and eat the clam out of the shell

I just soak my clams in salt water for a while before I cook them I dont mind a tiny bit of grit in there but sandy clams are not appealing ...

I have heard cornmeal works but fresh salt water does as well ...


why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

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Putting the clams in anything other than sea water will just kill them and if you don't eat them right away your going to get mighty sick.

You mention clam strips and they are ocean clams and very large and tough. They are cut in strips for that reason.

We get our own clams in the bay and eat them within minutes. We keep a grill attached to one of the rails on the boat and toss a few on to roast them in their own juice. 99% of the time we just take the little silver dollar sized ones and open and down them. The entire clam is eaten there is no cleaning to do other than scrubbing the shells before cooking, if you want.

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I have no idea whats in the "clam poop" but I find it absolutely deliciuos

I wonder if i'm eating real "clam poop" when Im eating that. I think i'm making myself sick

oh well, Id still eat it!


BEARS, BEETS, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA

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What size to do want, for chowder, Quahog is best, for most uses cherrystone is good and for eating, littleneck is best. Scrub your clams well,all else is bunk to reduce grit. Obtain a proper clam knife without a sharp tip or blade, they are blunt for a reason. Along with the clam opener get a good quality mesh glove, saves a trip to the E Room as I once slipped and had to do after 40 years of opening clams without one.

Hold clam in left hand whch is wearing glove, put the blunt tip into the back of the clam and wiggle around until you get a purchase and then twist the knife, prying open the clam. Insert opener into clam and cut muscles. Do this over a pan to catch the clam liquor.

Opening with heat will toughen the clam as they only need a fwe seconds a of heat for any dish. Good luck.


Edited by budrichard (log)

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^^^This is fantastic to watch live clams spitting out grit after being in the dark

Wawa Sizzli FTW!

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There are many varieties of clams. what you have been using is hardshell clam that goes under many names according to it's size, from the biggest to the smallest it's Quahog, Cherrystone, Littleneck, all are the same type.

The term 'bellys'' usually refers to the soft shell steamer clam which is also the clam used for New England fried clams. Somewhat unique, it has a skin on the neck that is removed after cooking and is never eaten raw.

Razor type clams are deep water and comprise the 'clam strips' you see for sale and are sometimes found fresh.

The West Coast Queyduck is a giant clam that is often used for sashimi and sushi.

No matter what the type, if cooked too long, a clam becomes tough, and i never use them on pizza but if I were, I would find out how to open and purchase the correct equipment which includes a mesh or kevlar glove for safety.

Forget the legend of feeding the clams to cleanse themsleves, doesn't happen and as Posted most water is Chlorinated and will kill the clams.. Cleanliness is what you require, so scrub your clam just before opening or cooking. Should be very little other than clam inside and the grit comes from the exterior.

The dark, mealy section is merely where the clam digests its food and is eaten with a hardshell clam.

We eat lot's of clams and it's worth learning the types and how to properly deal with them.

I would open them raw for your pizza reserving the liquid for a 'Clamato' cocktail!-Dick

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