I have to thank Dad for this one. I have no idea if he learned this elsewhere, or if he discovered it on his ownsome. This was just something he just DID.
Procure your Fresh-in-the-Shell littleneck or cherrystone clams, and put them directly into your freezer. (DISCARD any clams already open before you do that — they’re dead, and we don’t know how long, why, or anything else.) Just DITCH those!!! I do recommend you live near a coastal area, because freshness is CRITICAL.
Keep them there at least four days. But less than four months.
The adductor muscle on the clam is what keeps these things hard to open. If you want raw clams, you’ll have to spend a bit of time and energy opening them at whatever gathering you are at — but if you happen on littlenecks in advance, this freezer thing really works. Yes, they freeze and die, but you know what is happening, and that they weren’t already open and dead.
Pull them out — let them thaw in your fridge — in 2-3 hours they should thaw, and there will be a nice gap in the bivalve parts of the shell that a knife with no effort will be able to break apart.
I did try using some clams at the two-day mark once, but they weren’t ready for the adductor muscle to soften enough at that point. It seems to take at least three days, and I’d recommend four: and then the shells are So Much Easier to Open. And if any of those don’t open on their ownsome: DISCARD.
A little horseradish, a splash of lime or lemon, a drizzle of mignonette, or a dab of hot sauce goes well with them. I’ve even toyed with wasabi. In a pinch… au naturel!
Next thing to do: test this on oysters! I am not holding my breath, as oysters are really, really close-mouthed! I’ll just buy a couple — they’re pricey — and see.
PS: this is one of those recipes I wrote up a year or three ago, but never got around to publishing. But it does work.
Oh, yes… if you are in the US, don’t forget to vote today, if you haven’t already!!!
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