Clams can be enjoyed raw, steamed, boiled, baked or fried. They are also frequently encountered in chowders and other soups. Clams range widely in size and shape; the most common clams found in recipes are hard clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) and softshells (Mya arenaria). In some parts of the U.S., surf clams are popular.
Clams, oysters, and scallops may be used interchangeably in many recipes, so feel free to experiment. Retain the clam liquor or juice for use in soups and sauces for additional flavor.
• 6 to 12 clams = 1 serving
• 1 quart unshucked = 1 serving steamed
• 8 quarts unshelled = 1 quart shucked
• 1 quart shucked = 6 servings
• 1 quart shucked = 2 to 3 cups chopped
• 1 pint shucked = 3 to 4 servings
• 1 pint shucked = about 18 clams
• 6-1/2 ounce can minced = 1/2 cup drained
• 6-1/2 ounce can minced = 1/2 cup juice
How to Prepare Fresh Clams
First, scrub the outside of the clams thoroughly with a stiff brush. Since clams naturally burrow in the sand, they need to be purged of grit lest crunching down on grains of sand diminish your enjoyment of this flavorful seafood. Cover the clams with salt water (1/3 cup salt to 1 gallon of water) and let sit for several hours. This will induce the clam to release sand. Adding 1/4 - 1/2 cup of cornmeal to the soaking water helps as well and also whitens the meat.
If you are shucking your own, the shells will be easier to open if you freeze them for 15 minutes. Remove from freezer and let sit a few minutes before attacking the shells. As they warm up, the muscles relax, and the shells will open slightly so you can get your clam knife in. Remember to shuck over a bowl to save all that wonderful clam liquor.
You may wish to remove the tough skin covering the neck of longneck clams. Slit the skin lengthwise and remove it. You can grind the skin and add it to chowder or creamed clam dishes.