Cats, Cooking, and Life!

Steamed Softshell Clams

A plate of the finest

One dish that's always on our list of "must eats" at the cottage is steamed clams.  Or maybe steamed mussels.  But this time, it's clams.

The local clam is the softshell clam.   This batch was larger than we're used to, but they were still tasty and not a bit tough or chewy.  They had more sand and grit that we wanted.  If you get clams that are freshly dug, here's a tip: put the clams in a bucket of fresh seawater and let them sit for a day.  They "spit" their sand as part of their natural filtering process and your meal will be more enjoyable.

Be sure to examine the clams before they're cooked and discard any that the shells aren't tightly closed.  Those could be dead or less than fresh, which don't make for good eating.  Likewise, don't eat any that haven't opened their shells after cooking.  Those probably aren't worth eating either.

Method 1

This is our preferred method these days, where we steam the clams in a large pot.  For this, we need:
The pot and propane burner
  • a good supply of clams
  • a little bit of fresh water
  • a large pot on a good burner
  • a slotted ladle
  • serving trays
  • some melted butter for dipping.  Ideally, everyone should have their own dish
  • optional: finely chopped garlic for the butter.  Some like it, some don't
  • fresh-ground pepper
  • coffee mugs

Simply dump the water in the bottom of the pot.  In our case, it was about a litre of water which barely covered the bottom of the monster pot.  Then we put in the clams and put the pot on the burner and turned it to high.

At the start of cooking

The water will boil and turn into steam which starts to cook the clams. Then, the clams will open enough to release their own liquid, which falls to the bottom of the pot.  This cools the pot slightly and it goes off the boil. But it eventually boils again, and continues cooking.

This is the type of dish I can't put a firm time to cook, as it depends on the size of the pot, the temperature of the burner and the amount of clams you are cooking, but watch them carefully and look for them to open.  That's when you'll know they're done.

Some have opened, others not yet

Scoop them out with a ladle, bring them to the table and make sure everyone has a good supply of melted butter for dipping.  Be sure to remove the outer casing from around the neck.  Otherwise the entire clam is edible.  Watch them disappear.

On the picnic table

A nice accompaniment for the clams is the liquid at the bottom of the pot.  Scoop it into coffee mugs, put a few drops of melted butter and a couple of grinds of black pepper for a delicious drink! We call it dross, though I'm not sure why.  Any dictionary I've seen makes dross sound less tasty than it is.  Salt content is high, though.

A mug of dross

Method 2

We used to do it this way back, quite a few years ago, when the beach still had some sand on it.

We would build a large bonfire in a sand pit using mostly driftwood.  After the fire had burned down to mostly embers, we'd place a large metal mesh on top.  Then, the clams go on top of the mesh and a thick layer of seaweed covers all.  It would take 20 to 30 minutes for the clams to finish cooking this way.

When the clams opened from the heat, they'd drop their liquid onto the embers which created enough steam to cook them.

Then we'd gather them from the mesh and eat.  They'd taste great, although the clams were drier than the first method.


Anonymous said...

I have peaches in the house


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