Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Close Shave With Dinner - Razor Clams

Ah, Pacific Razor Clams.  Available from Alaska to California.  Just to clarify, in case there is any confusion.  I am not speaking about the Eastern Razor clams, nor am I talking about Jack Knife clams (which are sometimes called razor clams) See, this.....

is a Jack Knife Clam from the east coast;
and this....

is a Pacific Razor Clam.

Though they are prolific up and down the northern west coast, they are a little hard to come by in the grocery store. If you want them, you usually have to go dig them yourself.  Which I have done several times in the long ago past.  I remember a couple trips to Longbeach Washington in the pursuit of said Razor Clams when I was a kid.  We always used the clam guns instead of shovels, because the shells of the razor clam are easily broken and when they break, they are razor sharp. (thus the name

If you have never been clam digging before, let me assure you that the term "gun" is misleading.  Let me assure you that no fire arms are used in the capture and demise of said clams.  A clam gun is a tube that is sealed at one end, except for a thumb hole.

Photo Courtesy of Willapa Marine Products

You find a divot in the sand (called a "show") where a clam has retreated by digging a hole with his "foot" and shove the tube into the sand.  You then place your thumb over the hole and pull the tube up.  Kind of like taking a "core sample" of the sand.  Except this core sample contains a razor clam. Once you have pulled the "core sample" you remove your thumb from the hole and all the sand falls out of the tube, along with the razor clam.  Now the fun begins, because they begin to dig back into the sand immediately, so you must be quick and dig through the mushy sand with your hands and grab the razor clam before it gets away! Needless to say, this sort of thing is a lot of fun for a kid; which is probably why I remember it so vividly.  Though I also remember that at the end of the day, I had sand in places I did not know I even had.

So what to do with razor clams?

Well, I have heard that you can make excellent chowder with them, but my personal favorite way to prepare razor clams is to simply bread them and fry them. 

Sadly, this is not really a recipe, just a procedure.  This is simply because the ingredients are few and there are no set amounts.  It merely depends on how many clams you are frying and how big they are. And lemme tell ya, some of them are fairly big. (as you can see from the above picture)

Razor Clams

AP Flour
Kosher Salt
Lemon Pepper
Parmigiano-Reggiano (the undisputed King of cheeses)
shucked Razor Clams

You are going to have to dirty a lot of dishes for this.

First you need a dish that contains Eggs, that have been thoroughly beaten.

Then you need to prepare a dish with Flour that has been Salted and Lemon Peppered.

Thirdly, you will need a plate that is filled with a mixture of Panko and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. (I usually add about 1 TB of the undisputed king of cheeses per cup of Panko)

Finally, you will need a plate to place the Razor Clams on after all your dredging and breading procedure.

Whew!  Now that our mise en plas is in place, on with the clams!

The neck of the clam is extremely tough.

So grab a flat mallet, cause a spiked one is a little too much, and pound on the neck a little to soften the meat.

OK, now you will need to thoroughly dry the clams so that the flour will stick and not turn into goo.  This may require copious amounts of paper towels.

Once tenderized and dried thoroughly, it's time for a dusting of the flour mixture.

Then into the egg wash.

Then into the Panko...

You will probably have to press the panko to ensure good adhesion.

Then onto the plate.

Repeat with the remaining clams.... Lather, rinse, repeat.... You know.

If you need to make more than 1 layer of clams, separate your layers with waxed paper.
Once you have them all breaded, you will need to cover them and place them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the breading to "firm up".
I like to use Coconut oil for frying clams, but peanut oil works equally well.

Heat oil in a skillet and when it's nice and hot, throw in a couple breaded clams.

They cook quickly, so about 1-2 minutes per side is all you need.

Place them on a rack, set inside a baking pan, so any excess oil can drain off, and keep the breading crispy.

Store the cooked clams in an oven set on "Warm" if you have an oven that is capable, or with the oven light turned on, while you complete the others. (using the oven light is a great way to proof bread dough too)

Once they are all fried up, sit down and enjoy!


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