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Clams, Fresh Manila 1LB
Cleaning Fresh Clams
The first step is to clean your clams. 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. Eating grains of sand will certainly diminish your dining enjoyment.
To remove the sand before cooking, cover the clams with a saltwater solution of 1/3 cup salt to 1 gallon of water. Let the clams sit in the water for several hours. Adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cornmeal helps expel the dark matter and sand from the clams' stomachs and can also whiten the meat.
Tips for Shucking
If you plan to shuck the clams yourself, the shells will be easier to open if you freeze them for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, remove the clams from the freezer and let them sit for a few minutes before trying to pry open the shells. As the clams warm up, the muscles relax, and the shells will open slightly so you can get your clam knife inside.
Remember to shuck over a bowl to save all that wonderful juice—the clam liquor.
You may also want to remove the tough skin covering the neck of longneck clams. Slit the skin lengthwise and remove it. You can ground the skin and add it to chowder or creamed clam dishes.
Clam Cooking Tips
Once your clams are cleaned, you're ready to eat or cook them. The smallest clams are the most desirable for eating raw. The larger the clams are, the tougher the meat will be.
If you are going to eat unshucked clams raw, be sure to serve them cold, so the shells are easier to open. The clam juice or liquor that you saved while shucking can be poured on top of the open clams. Many people prefer to squeeze fresh lemon juice, a dash of Tabasco sauce, cocktail sauce, and horseradish as additional condiments.
Cooking clams can be tricky, but it's quick and not a difficult task. Whole clams have finished cooking when the shell opens. If the shell does not open after cooking, discard the clam. This tells you that the clam was not alive and that it may be contaminated with bacteria or toxins (this also applies to oysters and mussels).
Do not overcook clams or the meat will be like eating shoe leather. Add them to the heat at the last minute and cook gently over low heat. The longer the clams are on heat, the tougher the meat will become.
If you are making white clam chowder, to get tender clams, soak the clams in milk or cream (whichever is specified in the recipe) and add them last along with the cream. Cook only until the clams are heated through; do not boil.