Thursday, December 14, 2006

East Coast Razor Clams

For me, these steamed Atlantic razor clams were a first. While their shells should be familiar to many who visit East Coast beaches, the clams within had heretofore proven to be elusive. Last week, at Han Au Reun on Rolling Road below Route 40 west of Baltimore, was the first time I ever encountered them for sale. Unlike so much of the seafood at Han Au Reun, these razor clams were obviously fresh. I think I paid about $5.00 for a dozen of them. So what to do?

The decision to steam was made quickly after going to Fish: The Basics by Shirley King, who stated they could be "prepared in the same way as soft-shell clams." True, but that's far from the whole story. Quite significant is the difference between Pacific razor clams and Atlantic razor clams. The former has a lighter colored and closer to oval shaped shell. And at least a couple of West Coast aficionados maintain that the Atlantic razor clam isn't really a razor clam at all. The plot thickened when my research uncovered several varieties of both Atlantic razor clams and Pacific razor clams.

The Internet provided quite a bit of scientific information about razor clams from both coasts, but not as much regarding how best to prepare and consume them, particularly the East Coast genre. Except for word that West Coast razor clams were usually fried, the most specific source for recipes I could find was from the website of the State of Washington.

Two days after my research---for that matter, just a few minutes ago---I found on the Internet an article from today's New York Times that provided me with the perspective to proceed with this post. From it, I was able to conclude that most Atlantic razor clams are harvested in Maine, puchased by the Japanese, and taste great---which I've learned first hand---when steamed.

Should another opportunity to purchase fresh Atlantic razor clams confront me, however, I'd certainly be amenable to preparing them according to any of the recipes for West Coast razor clams provided by the State of Washington.