Preventing Gritty Clams

Have you ever bought fresh clams (or other shellfish), brought them home, cooked them and been disappointed when you have ended up with a mouthful of sand or grit? YUK!

Well, there is an easy way to “degrit” these delicacies and I am always surprised when people who purport to be experts don’t tell you how. There’s nothing worse than spending the time and money to make something like this at home and have it ruined because there was a step you didn’t know.

When you get your clams home, carefully inspect them to make sure that none of them are broken (discard any that are cracked or missing sections of shell). Scrub them well with plain water and a clean scrubby or brush. In a stock pot or bucket, place enough cold water to cover the clams by a couple of inches (don’t’ add the clams yet!); add enough salt to make the water taste like the ocean – yup, dip you finger in there and take a taste! Pour enough cornmeal into the container to create a floor of about two inches. Place your clams in there and place the whole thing in the fridge overnight.

Clams get their food by sucking sand up through their mouths, extracting nutritious bits from it and excreting the sand. The clams will suck the cornmeal up, thinking it is sand and excrete whatever sand is in their bellies.

When you go to cook your little bivalvular friends you will notice that most of the cornmeal has been replaced with sand, meaning that not only are their bellies void of the grit that can make eating shellfish unpleasant, but they will also be full of cornmeal which I find is an excellent counterpart to their briny flavor.

Proceed with your recipe! Remember always to discard any clams that do not open when you cook them. This means that they passed on to that great sand bar in the sky before you cooked them and you never know when they might actually have died, meaning that they aren’t safe to eat.


Nov 15th, 2015 | Posted in Cooking
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