If you've never enjoyed a fresh bivalve harvest, here's a tip: 15 razor clams is a significant gustatory investment. Hey, I love clams. I love them swimming in chowder, peeking out of my linguine, breaded and fried. But trust me, after spending an hour knuckle-deep in clam innards, I know now that even the most ardent enthusiast would do well to pace herself.
Soon after a wildly successful first clam dig on Washington's Roosevelt Beach, I found myself back in my kitchen, staring into a bucketful of razor clams. Fifteen meaty clams needed killing, de-shelling, dressing, and cooking before we could enjoy the sautéed clam recipe we'd been talking about for the past 100 miles. It was already past 8 p.m.; perhaps we’d been a bit ambitious.
There was the matter of killing them, for one. None of the pieces of clam literature I’d studied mentioned exactly what you’re supposed to do between shoreline and skillet. On the advice of a veteran clammer, we’d kept our catch alive in seawater on the three-hour journey home for maximum freshness.
"Everything I’ve read just starts with 'Pour boiling water over them for a few seconds until the shell pops open,'" I told my boyfriend and co-chef, Ted. "Can that be right?" With the clams still squirming around in the bucket, I suddenly felt a little seasick.
Ted gave me a look. "You're going to make me do this, aren't you?"