With the heat of the summer upon us, outdoor activities can lead to long days. Maybe you are planning on fishing, relaxing on the bay, wondering what to do on your friends boat, or sitting in the AC wondering where your friend is with that boat. After being out all day, you are probably going to be a little burnt, a little exhausted, and most likely starving. An easy dinner, while having a lot of fun getting them, are clams! A cool (literally) activity you, your friends and family can partake in is Clamming. Right away, some of you will read this, and think, oh I have to stick my feet in the sand! No worries, that is what we have clamming rakes for!
You can find clam rakes at your local bait shops throughout the area. Also, for those who do not like to put their toes in the sand, a pair of water shoes will do the trick. There are a lot of great places to find clams in the area, some of which you will need a boat, and others that you can access on foot. Winter seasonal clamming starts on December first. There are some charters out of Ocean City, MD that will take you out. Lighthouse Bait and Tackle also offers a clamming class, which is great for the whole family.
So now that I have piqued your interest, and you are all set with your water shoes and clam rakes, its time to head out on the water. You will want to clam in shallower waters, which helps keep everyone safe. Once you have chosen your spot, it is time for everyone to dig in. With your feet in the sand, you will move them side to side. Almost like doing the twist on the dance floor! You will be able to feel the clams, by their rough texture against your feet. Once you do find one, you may not be able to dig it up with your feet, so reach down and use your hands. Now that you have found your first clam, what kind of clam is it? Well there are different types of clams you will come across. The bigger clams, about the size of your fist, are known as “Chowder Clams.”
They are great for making soup, but just steamed will take you a long time to eat, as they are extremely chewy. For the purpose of this article however, you are looking for middlenecks or littlenecks. These are the perfect size for clams casino(recipe to follow) and steamers. They will be about the size of a silver dollar for the little necks, and a little smaller than a tennis ball for the middlenecks. Now that you have found enough clams for a little feast, what to do with them?
When you arrive at your destination, you will want to take the clams and throw them in a bowl with cool tap water. This will help them purge their sand. You can leave them in their from twenty minutes to an hour if you would like. While they are purging, lets gather some ingredients.
For fifty clams:
Shucking or paring knife
Bottle of Cocktail Sauce
1 lb Bacon (there will be leftover for breakfast)
1 bag Cheddar Cheese
1 bottle of Worchestire Sauce (small bottle)
5 Lemons or 4 oz lemon juice
After your clams have purged, give them a little rub down with a toothbrush to get rid of any residual sand. Put them on a tray and toss them into the fridge for a little bit; the cooler they are, the easier they will be to open. It is now time to open them. If you do not feel comfortable with this, they make gloves that you can wear. You will need a towel and your shucking knife. You are going to want to grip the clam in your left hand (if you are a righty) between the towel. You will want to put the hinge of the clam into your palm, with the opening of clam by your finger tips. Next, slip the knife into the muscle. The closer you are to the hinge, the more difficult it will be. Twist the knife and loosen the shells, prying them apart. Leave them together, as we are going to use both sides. Just reading through this part, you may still feel uncomfortable. There are a ton of links on U tube that will show you the step by step on the opening of clams! Now that you have opened your clams, time to make the casino!
On each side of the shell, put a dash of worstershire, squeeze some lemon or lemon juice, and a teaspoon of cocktail sauce. Top that with a piece of bacon, (size doesn’t matter a whole lot, as long as it covers the clam.) Set your broiler on the oven, and when ready put the clams in. Keep an eye on them, as you will want to take them out when the bacon looks crispy. About four to six minutes should be all you need. Take the clams out and cover each side with cheddar cheese. This is a personal preference, but for me the more cheese the better. Put the clams back in another minute or two, or until cheese is melted. Take the clams out and let cool. They will be extremely hot!
I hope that you find this recipe to not only be easy, but also family friendly. Everyone can participate, and just be careful when shucking. Enjoy your clams!