How to Prepare Steamer Clams: A New England Delicacy

how to prepare steamer clams

If you’re a seafood enthusiast, then you probably know that there’s nothing quite like indulging in a plate of fresh and delicious steamer clams. These succulent bivalves, also known as soft-shell clams, are a staple in New England cuisine. Whether you’re planning a beachside feast or simply craving a taste of the sea, learning how to prepare and eat steamer clams is a must.

Understanding Steamer Clams

Before we delve into the preparation process, let’s take a closer look at these delightful creatures. Steamer clams are found along the Atlantic coast of North America, known for their sweet and briny flavor. They are typically harvested in the sandy mudflats and salt marshes of New England, making them a beloved regional delicacy.

The most common species of steamer clams is Mya arenaria, also called soft-shell clams due to their thin, brittle shells. These clams have a tender texture and are often enjoyed steamed, which brings out their natural sweetness.

Preparing Steamer Clams

  1. Sourcing Fresh Clams: The key to enjoying the best steamer clams lies in sourcing fresh, high-quality specimens. Visit your local seafood market or fishmonger to ensure you get the freshest clams available. Look for plump, tightly closed shells, as this indicates freshness.
  2. Cleaning and Soaking: Once you have your clams, it’s important to clean them properly to remove any sand or grit. Start by rinsing them under cold water, and scrubbing the shells to remove any debris. Next, place the clams in a large bowl or pot and cover them with cold water. Add salt to the water (about 1/3 cup per gallon) and let the clams soak for at least 30 minutes. This brine soak helps the clams purge any remaining sand or grit.
  3. Cooking Method: Steamer clams are traditionally cooked by steaming, which preserves their delicate flavor and texture. Fill a large pot with about an inch of water and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, carefully add the soaked clams to the pot. Cover the pot and let the clams steam for approximately 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Checking for Doneness: Keep a close eye on the clams as they cook. They are ready when their shells open wide, revealing the juicy meat inside. Discard any clams that do not open after cooking, as they are likely dead and should not be consumed.

Serving and Enjoying Steamer Clams

Now that you have perfectly steamed steamer clams, it’s time to savor their irresistible flavors. Here are a few serving suggestions to enhance your dining experience:

  1. Classic New England Style: Serve the steamer clams with melted butter on the side for dipping. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice for a tangy twist. Don’t forget to provide plenty of crusty bread to soak up the delicious broth.
  2. Pasta Delight: Toss the steamed clams with al dente linguine or spaghetti, drizzling it with a light garlic and white wine sauce. Sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley and grated Parmesan cheese for a mouthwatering seafood pasta dish.
  3. Chowder Creation: Use the steamed clam meat in a creamy New England clam chowder. Sauté onions, celery, and garlic in butter, then add diced potatoes, clam broth, and cream. Simmer until the potatoes are tender, then add the diced clam meat and season with salt, pepper, and herbs. Serve hot with oyster crackers or crusty bread.

Order Fresh Maine Seafood from Klenda Seafood

Each bite of the tender steamer clams reflects the flavors and textures that make them a beloved treat along the New England coastline. Luckily, you don’t have to live here to enjoy this delicacy!

At Klenda Seafood, our fresh products are responsibly sourced and of the highest quality. We deliver fresh Maine seafood directly to your door, or if you’re in the area, stop by our South Portland location!