Yes it’s true! March 31st is officially National Clams on the Half Shell Day! Clam lovers come together to celebrate the beautiful thing they have in common: clams. Okay so it’s an “unofficial” National Holiday… But that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate anyway! We use this holiday as a chance to eat clams in their natural packaging: raw.
To celebrate this day, let’s take a short history lesson on clams. The formal term for clams is bivalve molluscs, but clams is much easier to say and shorter! Clams first were found over 510 million years ago. Clams can live in freshwater or marine habitats and their size ranges from so tiny that they are useless to try to eat all the way to 440 pounds like the giant clam! Some live to around one year while the oldest clam discovered was possibly over 500 years old.
Clams are made up of two valves that are connected by a hinge joint and a ligament. The ligament can be internal or external and provides tension to bring the valves apart. Many do not know that clams actually have kidneys, a heart, a stomach, a nervous system, and an anus.
Ready to shuck the clams? We have some tips for you before you begin. First make sure to scrub the clams clean, because no one wants to eat a dirty clam! Also please make sure you use a proper clam knife (these are different from oyster knives). Open your clams over a bowl for a smaller mess in your kitchen! Another tip is to not tap on them as they will tighten their shells and make it hard for you to open up.
Start by nestling the clam with the hinge set in the crook between your thumb and index finger. Stick the edge of the shucking knife into the lip and push the knife with your fingers. Twist the knife to pry open the shell, this will break the first muscle. Use your fingers to prop open the shell and slip the tip of the knife along the top of the shell to detach the muscles. Slide the knife along the bottom of the shell to further loosen the clam. And there you have it, you have shucked a clam!
Clams can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, baked, or fried. So which are you going to try today?