Perfect Summer Lunch
June 19, 2015
Steamed Ipswich Clams
I think I have just definitively solved the question of how to purge the sand from these delicious little morsels.
There's nothing more annoying than sitting down to a big bowl of steamers and finding yourself with a mouthful of grit. You want to get them really clean.
I've always used salt water and cornmeal. No more. From now on it's strictly salt water for me.
A friend arrived with a bucket of steamers a couple of days ago. "They're just-dug," he said, "and really sandy. So you'll have to clean them well."
"Did you bring me some seawater?" I asked. Seawater is their natural medium, and it makes them very happy. He'd neglected to do that, so I stirred 2 tablespoons of sea salt into 4 cups of water, gently lowered my clams into their new home and stuck the bowl in the refrigerator. I decided to leave them overnight; by morning, if the water wasn't filled with grit, I'd feed them some cornmeal.
In the morning I found the entire bottom of the bowl filled with sand. I cleaned out the bowl, added more salt water, and left the clams to rest for another day. Every time I opened the refrigerator it gave me a little thrill to see them sitting there, their feeder tubes extended to a full 4 inches.
I cooked them by steaming them in an inch or so of water for about 5 minutes, until all the shells were open. There was not a single grain of sand in the entire bowl. A perfect little lunch.
Next time I get some steamers, I think I'll fry them. If there's one thing that's better than a bowl of steamed clams, it's a plate of freshly fried Ipswichs.
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