Although clams inhabit practically all the shores of oceans and seas, the best ones are found on the shores of New England states of the U.S.A. In these states clambakes are a ritual, and taken very seriously.
Clams fall into two categories – hard – and soft shell.
The grey hard shell clams (quahogs) found in bays, tidal flats and on beaches of the East Coast Unites States, belong to the same specie and are generally marketed fresh. Ocean clams tend to be tough and are used mostly for canning.
Button clams are the smallest of the hard-shell variety. Little necks are best steamed in a little dry, aromatic white wine, or used in seafood stews or for steaming.
Cherrystones taste best grilled or baked.
Quahogs are large and tough, and better used for braising, or steamed and chopped for sauces.
are called steamers, or soft-shells, or long necks, or piss clams, or Ipswich – or Essex clams. They live in the mud of tidal mud flats of New England states, north of the US shores in Canada, and way down south to Florida.
In Europe, clams thrive in the Untied Kingdom and North Sea shores,
The shells of soft shells contain high degrees of calcium carbonate and are brittle. They live approximately 15 – 25 cm. in the mud. Humans as well as sea otters love to dig and eat them.
A few days before cooking soft shell clams store them in cold water and a little cornmeal.
They can be steamed, fried, used in chowders and clambakes.
Cold-water clams taste much better and intense than those harvested in warm seas.
On the North American west coast, manila clams can be found from central California, all the way north to British Columbia.
Giant geoduck clams are though and must be mechanically tenderized before cooking.
Japanese slice geoduck paper-thin and serve them as sashimi.
Razor shell clams have many synonyms (steamer, maninose, nannynose, squirt and longneck) and are more perishable.
Whiel in the past clams were dug or gathered “wild”, today approximately 50 per cent originate from clam farms.
The production is well controlled and distribution (at least in North America) is efficient.
Oysters are more popular than clams for lack of marketing efforts. Chances are, producers and distributors will soon embark on ambitious marketing efforts to popularize these tasty bivalves.
Hard shell clams
should be kept refrigerated, covered with a damp cloth covered with ice cubes. They can last up to five days.
Sancerre, Macon, Vouvray, Pouilly Fume, Pinot Gris, fino or manzanilla sherries, unoaked Chardonnays, and Fume Blanc from California go well with clams pending vintage and winery.