It has been over a decade since we’ve gone clam digging. We needed a refresher, and our family friend who lives off the Pacific Ocean in Westport graciously gave us his helpful and friendly tips to limit us all out in under 20 minutes.
Thankfully this all happened on a sunny February day which was a gift in itself. At this point, clams were just the frosting on the cake. It was not a great tide for clamming (minus tides reveal larger and more abundant razor clams), but we had our licenses, clam ‘guns’, boots and nets and were ready to just have fun.
What we learned:
#1. Stomp for the clams to show their location.
#2 Then go back and look for their dimple or donuts in the sand…or even squirts.
#3 Place your clam tube/gun over the divot spot while facing the ocean,
#4 Twist and push your clam gun into the sand at a 22 degree angle. This is the angle the clams dig…towards the ocean. This way you won’t crush their shells. The first time you may only go 10-15 inches down.
#5 Putting your thumb over the small air vent hole by the handle, pull the sand out, sifting through the core quickly for the clam, if not there repeat rapidly before he digs too deep. Leg muscles help to keep your back straight while pulling against the friction.
(It’s probably a good thing my video of this process wouldn’t upload since it was of me, wimpy me, pulling, complete with sound effects.)
The dimple or hole size in the sand is an indication of the clam size. Of course you must take what you dig.
Count your limit carefully. At this writing the limit is 15, and just one over will cost you a $150 ticket. Hmm. They’re good, but not quite worth that much.
To clean them, a brief dip in boiling water will open the shells exposing the meat. This took maybe 10-15 seconds after this picture was taken. Too long in that high heat will make them rubbery.
Scissors work well for cutting off the tip, opening the tender ‘skirts’ and ‘diggers’, removing the unwanted innards, and nipping off the tougher necks which are saved for chowder.
I’ve been told water bath canning the necks for 4 hours makes them so very tender, or grinding them through a meat grinder works for that clam chowder we can’t wait for.
The six of us brought home 90 clams, so some we froze, others we fried, breakfast included a clam omelette, lunch was chowder, clams and linguini for dinner. But what recipe do you love that we should we try?!
If you ever get a chance to go clamming on one of the “dig days”, I couldn’t encourage you more. Fresh is where it’s at, complete with the sea and the experience. Ahhh. Life is good.