Although there is no official season for clams, to me summertime has always meant sitting out on the porch with some fresh clams: grilled and dipped in a beer sauce, raw clams on the half shell with butter, or steamed clams in a white wine and tomato sauce with some fresh bread to “zup up the sauce,” as my family has always said. These little guys are low in fat, high in protein and have crazy amounts of vitamin B12. The best part about clams is that the greatest preparations are often the most simple (and they cook in about 5 minutes)! There are over 150 varieties of clams, but the most popular are quahog, littleneck, steamers, Manila and razor clams.
It may seem tedious, but you need to tap any open clams on the counter to make sure they’re still alive. If the shell is cracked or the clams don’t shut their trap, discard and move on with the prepping process. Because clams live under the sand and use their body as a filtration system, you’re going to want to soak them in fresh water for about an hour to clear out the sand. Everyone has different theories on what to add to the water to get the most sand out; my favorites are cornmeal or baking soda. Pick each clam out individually and rinse its shell under running water (dumping them all out will pour the sand right back into what you just cleaned out). Feeling clammy yet? Here are 25 things you can do with those clean clams:
- Put those suckers straight onto the grill. They’ll steam in their own delicious juices. Try out Grilled Clams and Oysters (pictured), Grilled Clams with Garlic Butter, Grilled Clams with Charred Zucchini and Garlic, and Grilled Razor Clams with Meyer Lemon-Chive Vinaigrette.
- Giada creates pasta perfection with her Conghilie with Clams and Mussels.
- Fresh mayo is just one of those things that probably doesn’t seem worth the effort. Well, I’m here to tell you that it is not very hard and might just be one of the most amazing things you’ll ever eat. Try Alton Brown’s Clams on the Half Shell with Fresh Mayonnaise.
- Pasta with clam sauce is a family favorite. Giada’s Spaghetti with Clams features a white wine sauce while Nadia G. sticks with a rustic tomato sauce in her Linguine with Clams.
- New Haven-Style White Clam Pizza is truly an American classic. Italian immigrants brought the thin-crust pizza to this Connecticut city and the local clams ended up on the square slices.