Opening Clams

/. Scrub shells thoroughly before opening.

2. Hard-shell clams are sometimes sandy inside, and soft-shell clams nearly always are. They can be flushed as follows:

• Make a salt brine, using % cup salt per gallon of water (20 mL salt per liter).

• Soak the clams in the brine for 20 minutes.

• Drain and repeat until the clams are free of sand.

Figure 14.8 Opening clams.

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Cockles

Figure 14.8 Opening clams.

(a) Examine the shell to see that it is tightly closed, indicating a live clam. Rinse the shell under cold, running water. Avoid jostling the clam too much, or it will "clam up" tighter. Hold clam in left hand as shown (or in right hand if you are left-handed). Place the sharp edge of the clam knife against the crack between the shells.

(b) Squeeze with the fingers of the left hand, forcing the knife between the shells.

(c) Change the angle of the blade as shown in the illustration and slide the knife against the top shell to cut the adductor muscles (clams have two; oysters have only one). Be careful not to cut or pierce the soft clam.

d) Open the clam and finish detaching the meat from the upper shell.

(e) Cut the muscles against the lower shell to loosen the clam completely. Discard the top shell. Remove any particles of shell from the clam before serving.

Mussels, left to right: green, blue (wild), blue (farm-raised).

New Zealand green lips

• Some chefs put cornmeal in the water and refrigerate the clams in it for a day. The clams eat the cornmeal and expel the sand.

• Rinse in fresh water before using.

3. Opening hard-shell clams is different from opening oysters.This technique is illustrated in Figure 14.8.

4. Like oysters, clams to be cooked may be opened by spreading on sheet pans and placing in a hot oven just until the shells open. Discard any that do not open, because they were likely dead before cooking.

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