Clams are an extremely versatile food that complements a variety of dishes. They pair well in anything from pastas, to soups and stews, to summer salads, and are simply delicious on their own.
But different types of clams have different textures, tastes, and sizes that determine how they should be prepared. Here we’ve listed a few of the most popular types you might find at your local grocery store or fish market.
- Littlenecks: These types of clams have a hard-shell and are commonly eaten on the half-shell or used in chowders. Littlenecks are typically smaller in size and served raw because they are more tender and sweet.
- Cherry Stone: While Littlenecks and Cherry Stones are very similar in texture, the only real difference is size. Cherry Stones tend to be a bit larger and are typically used when making baked clams.
- Steamers: A type of soft-shell clam, steamers are lighter in color than the hard varieties. They are self explanatory in terms of preparation: steaming! Often served in the broth produced from steaming alongside butter or any other light sauce for dipping.
- Razor Clams: Unlike littlenecks and steamers, which have similar shapes, Razor clam shells are long, smooth, and thin. Although they can be prepared many ways, sautéing or steaming them with fresh flavors like garlic and lemon make for an excellent summer dish.
When looking to buy clams, make sure that the shells have no damage and are slightly open. You want to buy clams while they’re alive, so if you lightly tap on the shell it should close shut on its own. After cooking, only consume the clams that have opened – do not try to open a closed shell or consume any clams that have not opened during the cooking process.
Aside from being tasty, clams are also little nutritional powerhouses that pack in a multitude of vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc vitamin B12, and selenium. These essential nutrients all play important roles in the body, like cellular replication and the production of red blood cells, which helps move oxygen through the body. Selenium works alongside antioxidants in our bodies to reduce the damage to our cells.