A Taste for Clams

Sammy loves to go sea clamming at low tide.

Sea clams are the largest clam, reaching 5-9 inches in size. They are just under the sand, sometimes if you are on a sand bar and you walk along the bar, water  squirts up and you know there is a clam there. Sammy drags his hand or rake across the sand down about an inch and  feels what seems like a large rock.

Sammy’s old man was grumpy, often. He would be at the beach at low tide making sure that people had their permit and also that they were only taking one bucket of clams. They were often taking more than their share.

There are three types of claims commonly found near Sammy’s place, New England U.S.A. Soft-shell clams are best steamed or fried. Quahogs are hard shell clams and come in three sizes, littlenecks, 2 to 2 1/2 inches, cherrystones, 2 1/2-3 inches and anything larger is a sea clam. These large sea clams are the ones Sammy prefers.

Sammy makes sea clam pie, clam chowder, and stuffed clams.

Here’s some of of the recipes:

Stuffed Sea Clams
Open 8-10 sea clams and reserve 1 1/2 cup of liquid. Melt 1/2 a stick of butter and sautee 1/2 Spanish onion (chopped), 2 minced garlic cloves.

Add chopped clams, 1 Tablespoon Parsley, dash of tabasco, 1/2 tsp pepper and approximately 2 cups of seasoned bread crumbs. You want to make this mixture like a stuffing.

Take the sea clam shells and boil for about 10 minutes to clean. Put your stuffing mix into the shells. Place in 325 degree oven for 30 minutes or until hot.

You can also wrap the clams in foil and place on your grill for 20 minutes.

Sea Clam Pie

2 cups sea clams chopped or put thru grinder (save juice!)

2 cups hot boiled potatoes diced in 1/4 inch cubes

2 medium onions, chopped finely

2 cups celery, diced finely

2 bay leaves (optional)

5 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

sea salt and pepper

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons parsley, minced

Pastry dough for two 9-inch pies

Line pie plates with pastry dough.

Sauté onions and celery in 3 tablespoons of butter. Add clam juice, bay leaves.

Make a roux of flour rubbed with the remaining 2 tablespoons of softened butter and add to clam liquor, stirring until smooth, making a thin gravy.

Season with pepper to taste.

Combine ground clams, potatoes, cream, and gravy,

Place mixture into pie pans. Add one bay leaf per pie. Sprinkle with minced parsley. Fit and trim pastry dough to top, and prick with air holes.

Bake in a hot oven (450 F) for at least 15 minutes or until brown.

Clam Chowder

5 cups of clam juice and water (Save the juice from your clams and add to it the water to make the 5 cups.)
1 cup of flour
1 cup onion, finely diced
1 small piece of salt pork (optional)
2 tablespoons of margarine
2 cups of chopped clams
4 medium potatoes, cooked and cut in bite sized chunks
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup light cream
freshly ground black pepper

Saute the salt pork in a large saucepan on medium heat in 1 tablespoon of oil until lightly brown. Remove salt pork. Add clam juice.

In a separate pan, melt margarine and saute the diced onions until they appear translucent. Add flour to the melted margarine and stir continuously for 5 minutes. Increase heat on clam juice to medium-high, and with a wire whisk, add flour, margarine and onion mixture to the liquid. Stir constantly, breaking up any lumps that form.

Add clams and stir. Add potato chunks, milk, cream, and salt and continue stirring. Decrease heat to medium-low, and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning or sticking.

Serve hot with oyster crackers, adding freshly ground black pepper to taste.