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From Johnna’s Kitchen: Summer Steamed Clams

They can be found all over the beach, and are a staple at many summer parties. They’re CLAMS! This tasty mollusk has over 2,000 varieties, most of which can be prepared many different ways. Some of the most common types to the East coast are Steamers, Cockles, Quahogs, Cherrystones, Littlenecks, Topnecks, and Razor clams.

These tips from homecooking.about.com will help with the most important part; the prepping!

How to Prepare Fresh Clams

First, scrub the outside of the clams thoroughly with a stiff brush. Since clams naturally burrow in the sand, they need to be purged of grit lest crunching down on grains of sand diminish your enjoyment of this flavorful seafood. Sand should be removed before cooking by covering the clams with salt water (⅓ cup salt to 1 gallon of water) and let sit for several hours. Adding ¼  to ½ cup of cornmeal to the soaking water helps expel the dark matter and sand from the stomachs and also whitens the meat.

If you are shucking your own, the shells will be easier to open if you freeze them for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from freezer and let sit a few minutes before attacking the shells. As they warm up, the muscles relax and the shells will open slightly so you can get your clam knife in. Remember to shuck over a bowl to save all that wonderful juice known as clam liquor.You may wish to remove the tough skin covering the neck of longneck clams. Slit the skin lengthwise and remove it. You can ground the skin and add it to chowder or creamed clam dishes.

Clam Cooking Tips and Hints

If clams do not open after cooking, discard them, as it means they were not alive to begin with and may be contaminated with bacteria or toxins.

The smallest clams are the most desirable for eating raw. The larger they get, the tougher the meat.

Extended heat further toughens the meat, so cook gently at low heat settings.

Clams may be substituted in most oyster, scallop, and mussel recipes, and vice versa.

Directions

Scrub clams under cold running water.

Place in a kettle with a cup of water, a teaspoon of garlic salt, and (optional) a small bottle of draft beer.

Cover and Steam for 8 minutes or until all shells are open. Discard any clams whose shells did not open during the cooking process.

Serve in shells with melted butter, lemon juice, and cocktail sauce.

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