A clam is a aquatic bivalve that burrows in the ground, usually sand or mud. Clams have been around for at least 200 million years. Humans have been eating them a long time too: giant two foot clams, Tridacna costata, existed over 125,000 years ago in the Red Sea and may have been the first sea creature ever harvested by humans! Clams can also live a long time. An ocean quahog clam dredged up in the North Atlantic was over 400 years old, and named Ming by researchers.
Clams are harvested by many methods. They can be harvested by hand, with a pitchfork, with a clam rake, as well as by trawling behind a boat. In part the method of clamming depends on the species. For example softshell clams must be dug by hand as they have fragile shells. Besides commercial clamming, many people clam for their own needs as well as for fun. As this picture on the left from 1957 in Long Island, New York, shows, even Nuns clam!
Most clams have a delicious sweet flesh and can be prepared in many ways. Many hard shell clams are delicious raw. Fried clams are a wonderful delicacy. Baked stuffed clams, clam cakes, and steamed clams are superb. Clams Casino, shown to the left, are a wonderful combination of clams, parmesan cheese, bacon, herbs and vegetables cooked in half a clam shell.
There are over 200 species of clams. Some are too small to be interesting, too rare, or barely palatable, but many are widely available, and useful as food and as aquarium critters among other uses. We will concentrate on all interesting clams, with a slight nod to commonly available and tasty ones. The clams to the left are Amandes de Mer, also known as "Dog Cockles," which I just encountered for my first time on a recent trip to the South of France.
Of course we like plenty of other bivalves and shellfish besides clams. For example Oysters absolutely rock, and the term "oyster" actually refers to number of distinct groups of bivalves, which include both "true oysters" and others. We won't worry about those distinctions here, but will concentrate on oysters as food.
Both wild and farmed oysters are commonly eaten, and oysters have been farmed since at least the days of ancient Rome. Although some alleged "purists" insist that oysters should only be eaten raw, we enjoy many preparations and so should you!
Clams of course are very Zen. They are one with their environment living buried in it and filter feeding the surroundings. Perhaps that why they are supposedly so happy as in "Happy as a Clam"?
Cockles and Laverbread - part of a traditional Welsh breakfast. Yup, bivalves for breakfast!
Steamed Mussels in White Wine Sauce - I've made this easy and delicious one several times this week!
Baked Stuffed Cuttlefish - With a shimp stuffing. Delicious, and you can also make calamari/squid this way.
Deep Fried Oysters - So simple to make and so delicious!
Omani Lobster - Spiny Lobsters from The Middle East.
Glidden Point Oysters (Maine)
Namibian Farmed Oysters - Pretty intense and excellent!
Mossel Bay Oysters - Wild oysters from South Africa
Clams by Their Shell - A Pictorial guide from Cape Cod.
Finding Steamer Clams At The Beach - A "How To" guide, with plenty of pictures.
Clams Casino - The Classic Dish originally from Rhode Island, with cooking tips and my Clams Casino Recipe.
Maine Mahogany Clams - Maine Mahogany clams are a variety of ocean quahog, although they were though to be a distinct species when discovered a few years ago. They are inexpensive and we cook them several ways.
Common Cockle - One of the most common clam in Europe, the common cockle is tasty and eaten several ways, including pickled.
Amandes de Mer - This term means sea almonds and they are sweet and taste of almonds. Some consider them inedible, which is ludicrous, as they do not survive canning or overcooking well. The English, infamous for overcooking everything, call them dog-cockles.
Places to go Clamming - A pictorial guide from Cape Cod emphasizing what to look for and what to avoid. Of course you cannot trump local knowledge.
Clam Prices - Clams prices vary as much as daily depending on market demand.
Fried Clams - I love deep fried whole clams as do many.
Best Fried Clams - Some suggestions of what to look for and consider, and some actual favorite establishments.
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