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Clamming is a Maine tradition going back to the first native inhabitants. The first thing you need if you wish to clam is a license. Many towns sell the license for the day, and these folks can tell you where or where not to do the dirty work. Ferry Beach in Scarborough is one of those good spots. Hit the beach on the falling tide, then look for the holes. Those holes will probably have a clam attached to it, carefully work around the hole and scoop the clam up. Gather the clams in a basket, and your ready for the clam bake. Important: find out if any clam flats (and which ones) have been closed recently due to pollution, conservation efforts, or "red tide" poisoning. Every year, new sections of shoreline are closed (sometimes indefinitely) for one or more of these reasons, and although flats are frequently posted as closed, you can't always count on seeing the signs.
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Nutritionally, clams fall into the low-fat/medium-protein category when compared to the traditional high-protein favorites of the American diet. For example, in 100 grams of clam meat (typically four large-or nine small-clams) you'll find 14 grams of protein and one gram of fat ... while in the same amount of sirloin steak you'll find 23 grams of protein saturated with a full 32 grams of fat. And the clam protein is actually of higher quality and more easily digested than the beef protein.Clams fare well in the minerals department, too: Gram for gram, clam meat offers nearly twice as much iron as steak, and at least as much phosphorus, potassium, and trace minerals. A clam's shell consists of two (usually equal) valves, which are connected by a hinge joint and a ligament which can be external or internal, much like a Venus Flytrap. In clams, two adductor muscles contract to close the shells. The clam has no head, and usually has no eyes, (scallops are a notable exception), but a clam does have kidneys, a heart, a mouth, and an anus. For more information see bivalve and pseudofeces. Clams, like most mollusks, also have open circulatory systems, which means that their organs are surrounded by watery blood that contains nutrients and oxygen. Clams eat plankton by filter feeding, and they themselves are eaten by small sharks and squid. The New England Clam Bake is a traditional method of cooking foods, especially seafood such as lobster, mussels, crabs, steamers, and quahogs. The seafood is often supplemented by sausages, potatoes, onions, carrots, corn on the cob, etc. Clam bakes are usually held on festive occasions along the coast of New England.A typical clam bake (or clambake) begins with gathering seaweed at the shoreline; seaweed is an important adjunct to cooking the food. To keep the seaweed fresh, it is necessary to have a container large enough to hold both the seaweed and a fair amount of sea water. Also important are several round medium-sized stones, or sometimes cannon balls, which are heated in the fire and used to re-radiate heat during the cooking process. Lastly, like most other methods of steaming, a cover is necessary to allow the trapped heat and steam to thoroughly cook the food. Canvas tarps or potato sacks soaked in sea water are often used for this purpose. Once the stones and seaweed have been collected, a fire pit is prepared. Some prefer to simply start a fire within the pit, while others line the edges with flat stones to provide support for a metal grill on which the stones may be placed. The stones used for cooking are then placed in the center of the pit and a wood fire is started, although the exact method of heating the stones varies. The fire must burn until the stones are glowing hot. Care must be taken to ensure that the fire will burn out shortly after this optimal cooking temperature is achieved. The ashes are then swept off the stones and raked between them to form an insulating "bed". A layer of wet seaweed is place over the stones, followed by traditional regional foods such as steamer clams, mussels, quahogs, and lobsters. Side dishes usually include potatoes, corn on the cob, linguiça sausages, carrots, and onions. Alternating layers of seaweed and food are piled on top and the entire mound is covered with canvas that has been drenched in sea water to seal in the heat and prevent the canvas from burning. (Some may prefer to use beer to soak the canvas, but it is unlikely to have any effect whatever on the cooked food.) The food is allowed to steam for several hours. Since many locales outlaw building fires on beaches, and in order to accommodate the dish in homes or backyards, this dish is often prepared in a large pot. This is known as a New England Clam Boil. There are some caterers that specialize in clam bakes on the beach.
Check out the Annual Yarmouth Clam Festival always the third Friday in July www.clamfestival.com
How to Shuck Hard Shell Clams: Preliminaries: Make sure all the clams are alive. Clean under cold water and proceed.
Hold the clam in palm with the hinge toward thumb. Slide clam knife blade between the shells and twist to force clam shells apart. Run the clam knife along the top shell to remove clam.
Remove top shell. Run blade of knife under the muscle to severe it and loosen clam completely.