Steamer clams, long necks or soft shelled clams are one of Maine’s most treasured mollusks. They can be dug in the mud or sand during low tide in the intertidal areas of the coast. Clams are economically important to Maine as they are number 2 only to lobster. Sweet and salty, they are the perfect accompaniment to a lobster dinner. You will need about ½-1 lb/person as an appetizer or 1-2 lbs/person if it’s the main course. One pound will get you about 12-15 clams.
The best way to clear the grit out of steamer clams is to put them into a large bowl or basin and add ⅓ cup sea salt to 1 gallon of cold water ratio. Let them sit for 20 minutes to 1 hour. Rinse and prepare. You can use either plain water, white wine or beer to steam for about 10 minutes. You can add herbs, lemon, garlic or shallot to the broth if you like but most people enjoy steamers simply prepared enabling you to savor their delicate flavor.
Reserve the hot broth from the clams to give each individual eating them a little cup to rinse their clams. The hot broth is a wonderful way to ensure the heat of the clams as they tend to cool quickly once out of the pot.
In a small bowl, melt your favorite butter, quality butter is worth a splurge when eating steamers. If you’re not familiar with eating them they may look a little intimidating but they truly taste much better than they look! Use your fingers to gently peel them out of their shell and then pull off the dark skin that covers the siphon. Next, use the siphon as a dipper and first dip into the hot broth and then into that beautiful butter! Bon Appetit!