Clams are a type of bivalve mollusc that includes razor clams, dog cockles, hard clams, Venus clams, Manila clams, and carpet shell (or palourdes) clams. This collection, however, only looks at the oval-shaped species, as razor clams have their own section.
Clams are plentiful along the Cornish coastline, and they are inexpensive and simple to prepare, requiring only a brief exposure to high heat. Clams are frequently steamed or boiled before being added to pasta meals, soups, and chowders, however, a purist would simply remove the clams from their shells and serve them with a knob of butter and a dash of salt – or perhaps some mayonnaise and fresh herbs.
After that, soak the clams in severely salted (enough salt to taste like seawater) cold water for 20 minutes, during which time the clams will naturally filter out any grit and sand. Repeat the process with a fresh batch of salted water if they are very sandy. After this, soak for 10 minutes in fresh, unsalted cold water to rinse away any extra salt that has been absorbed.
How To Prepare Clams
Check for broken shells or clams that don’t close when tapped before cooking – these are dead and should not be eaten. Because filthy shells frequently come into contact with the sauce or chowder, they must be thoroughly cleaned.
Typically, clams are added to a dish while still in their shells, allowing the heat of the steam or sauce to cook them and push the shells open. If the recipe calls for raw clam meat, it must be removed from the shell. The method is similar to that of opening an oyster; for more information, visit How To Open A Clam
How To Cook Clams
Steaming clams is the most popular method of preparation. Bring a few inches of liquid to a rapid simmer in a heavy-bottomed pot with a good-fitting lid – perhaps water, wine, cider, or fish stock. Place the shells in a steamer or colander and steam them for 2 minutes, shaking occasionally, until all the clamshells have opened.
Fresh clams can also be cooked by immersing them in a hot liquid, such as a jus or sauce. When cooking spaghetti vongole, the clams are normally put to the sauce at the end for a few minutes so that the heat from the sauce and pan cooks the meat and causes the shells to pop open.
Clams do not require cooking. They can be eaten raw as sashimi (often with surf clams) or sucked right out of the shell. Clams can also be pickled, smoked, and dehydrated at home using a dehydrator.
How To Tell When A Clam Is Cooked
Clams have an internal timer, so when the meat is cooked, the shells ping open. If you find yourself clawing at a cooked clamshell or struggling to pry it open, it’s a sign that you shouldn’t be eating what’s within.