Clams in the Raw – a Note for Ease of Opening These

I’ve been busy – yes, my arm is much better now, and I can cook efficiently again.  I can even eat like a polite member of society (no putting my face about four inches from the plate any more, or figuring out how to handle a fork with the left hand, British style)! I do have a couple recipes I made recently and I want to do them once more (with photos this time) to share.

Finishing up the new house continues onward.  I keep being told I’ll get that Certificate of Occupancy any day now, but I’m not holding my breath.   I’ve been packing, and buying stuff I never realized I needed to buy, and doing such and so forth.  Nearly all my books have been sorted through, and at least ten bags got donated to the local library sale, or to a farmer’s market cookbook swap, or thrown into the recycle bin (old computer books… no one  wants those!)  I still have plenty of books, though.

raw clams, technique, Paleo

Raw clams with lemon, on a bed of lettuce.

The following, though, is my Dad’s method of preparing raw clams, without having to worry about cutting oneself with a sharp knife.   As such, it’s not really a recipe.  I do plan to see if this can be replicated with oysters, which are a whole ‘nother level of magnitude to open safely!

Easy Opening Raw Clams:  

  • Buy clams as fresh as possible, from a reputable dealer.  They should not have been previously frozen (we don’t see them in the shell in the supermarket that way, at least here in New England).
  • Put the clams in your freezer, un-opened.  Make sure all clams are tightly closed – at this point it means they are still alive and healthy.  Of course, they don’t survive being frozen!
  • Leave them there at least four days; I’ve noticed that this technique does not work so well on day 2 or day 3.
  • Pull them out and allow to thaw.  Maybe half a day in the fridge.
  • When ready to serve, prepare dipping sauces if any, or slice some lemon wedges.  Or, both.  Ideally I like having several options:  Lemon or lime slices, a mignonette  (the link leads to mine), a bottle of your favorite hot pepper sauce, perhaps a little horseradish – either alone or in with ketchup as a cocktail sauce.  Since most of my condiments have moved up north, and since I am currently avoiding nightshades for a putative autoimmune situation, I opted for just the lemon.  (Yes, there’s a pre-existing bottle of hot sauce in the photo, but I didn’t use it.)
  • Just use a regular place-setting flatware knife to open these guys up.  Easy peasy and no stress.
  • As long as you eat them within a couple of months of freezing, I’ve never found any taste quality degradation.  Mind you, I haven’t run a side-by-side experiment yet.
  • Serve on a bed of lettuce, or alternatively, on a bed of crushed ice.  I don’t have crushed ice here (or ice of any sort for that matter, as my ice cube trays moved north already), so lettuce it is!  I’d love to find a set of those little oyster forks and use those, but.
  • At any rate, if you are serving as an appetizer for company at a sit down dinner, I recommend opening the clams before serving, and using a paring knife to separate the bottom of the clam from the shell.  It is perfectly respectable to serve the hot sauce in its original bottle, and pass it around the table.  More casual… let your guests open up their own clams!
Raw clams, Paleo, technique

While I am currently avoiding nightshade-containing foods, the hot sauce begged to be in the photo.

Thank you, Dad, for helping me carry on your shellfish (NOT selfish!!!) tradition!  At the moment, I don’t know anyone else who does this, so if you do so already, please comment here!

Further Info:  I bought two sizes of clam ~ littleneck and cherrystone.  The cherrystones are larger.  There’s an even bigger size, the chowder clam.  They are all the same species, Mercenaria mercenaria.   They are sometimes commonly referred to as quahogs, or sometimes just the chowder clams are known as quahogs.

Come celebrate at the link party at Fiesta Friday,
with your marvelous co-hosts Zeba and Jhuls.



About goatsandgreens

The foodie me: Low/no gluten, low sugars, lots of ethnic variety of foods. Seafood, offal, veggies. Farmers' markets. Cooking from scratch, and largely local. The "future" me: I've now moved to my new home in rural western Massachusetts. I am raising chickens (for meat and for eggs) and planning for guinea fowl, Shetland sheep, and probably goats and/or alpaca. Possibly feeder pigs. Raising veggies and going solar.
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