Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happy Clams 2 U

Mercenaria mercenaria (Hard Clam)
Also called the quahog, Cherrystones, littlenecks, steamers or HEAVEN in a shell... the best calms are the size of the top of a beer/soda/pop can with a thick shell that is grayish white on the outside and white on the inside with a purple patch near the rear. The hard clam lives in sandy-bottomed bays and murky coves, and along beaches from Canada to Texas Recreational fishermen gather the clams with rakes and hoes (that's funny), or simply by probing the bottom with their feet or hands. At low tide, experienced gatherers can spot siphon holes on the bottom where Clams are actively feeding. This species supports a substantial recreational and commercial fishery. There is a minimum legal size that varies from state to state. The smallest clams are called "little necks", next are the "cherrystones", and the largest is called a "chowder".
When Buying:
The price of the clam is determined by its size -- the smaller the clam, the more expensive it will be in relation to the large chowder clam, which will be the least expensive.
CULINARY delight:
clams have a sweet, light flavor, but this is more evident in the smaller, more tender little necks. Steamed until they pop completely open, if they don't pop open don't force them they ARE DEAD AND and should not be eaten... little necks have almost a buttery flavor. Larger clams don't seem as sweet because they are chewier. The chowder clams need to be chopped and cooked to help tenderize them; hence, as the name implies, they are best for clam chowder.The little necks are best for clams on the half-shell (raw) because they are the tenderest. But, of course, they also may be steamed with garlic and olive oil or a little/lot of wine for a delicious dish. Steamed little necks complement mussels very nicely; the two can be steamed together. Don't forget; you can use your microwave to steam oysters, clams, and mussels. No water is necessary. Place them in a shallow dish with the hinge toward the outside cover, vent, and microwave on HIGH for 6-8 minutes.Cherrystones may also be used for clams on the half-shell, but they are typically used for baked clam appetizers such as clams casino. Chowder size are best if they are cut up or chopped and cooked. Smaller chowder clams may be cut into strips and breaded. Also, chopped clams are excellent for making a white sauce to top your favorite pasta.

and best of all, the great taste of a Clam dipped in a bowl of melted butter...

the weekend was full of clams...

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