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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Five Fantastic Clam Dishes


Seafood is very popular and arguably healthy for you, or so says my doctor. It certainly has less fats and calories than red meats, no added hormones, and many health benefits. Growing up by the seacoast I often take seafood's popularity for granted, but on a recent trip to the Midwest, restaurants were featuring oysters from both coasts, Maine lobster, and plenty of sushi. My favorite seafood of all time is clams, and although perhaps not as popular away from the coast, the wide array of clams dishes on local menus and the proliferation of "clam shacks" along the New England coast reinforce the notion of the clam's popularity. Here are some of five of the most popular clam dishes.

Fried clams, deep fried to a golden brown and served with tartar sauce are a favorite. These are typically soft shell clams, briefly dipped in coating, and then deep fried. Although no one is going to claim these are healthy, if the coating, usually bread crumbs or some type of batter, is relatively light they do not absorb as much grease as would be expected. Everyone has their favorite place locally for these, whether it's a Spartan clam shack with benches and tables outside or a more upscale establishment.

Steamers are also soft shell clams, at least in New England, and steamed briefly perhaps for 2-3 minutes just until they open. They need to be served immediately when done, and are usually dipped in the broth from steaming and then into melted butter. They make a great appetizer. Many types of clams can be steamed, but my favorite is New England soft shell clams.
Baked stuffed clams are popular both on restaurant menus and also in supermarkets. These are available far and wide, and there are even several frozen varieties that are pretty good. That said, fresh is always better. These are hard shell clams, chopped and mixed with some combination of breadcrumbs, onions, spices, peppers, and more.

A clamcake is an interesting concept and not too far removed from the baked stuffed clam idea, except they are deep fried and served with tartar sauce. The best clam cakes have a high clam to other ingredient ratio. Besides clams, they often contain eggs, breadcrumbs, flour, and more.
Our last clam dish is Clam Pie. This is a traditional Native American dish enjoyed by The Puritans, and consists of a pie crust with filling that includes flour, sauteed onions, carrots, potatoes and of course chopped clams. Interestingly, this is often served for breakfast and makes a hearty breakfast indeed!

Visit All About Clams for much more information on tasty clam dishes!
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