They are usually supplied ready to cook by your fish supplier, but since they spend their lives in the sand they might be gritty, so could need cleaning before cooking. If so, scrub the outside of the Clams with a stiff brush, make up a mix of 1 / 3rd of a cup of sea salt to a gallon of water, or use clean sea water if you can, add ½ cup of corn meal to help whiten the meat in the Clam, and leave to stand in a very cool place for six hours. Check one or two by steaming open in a pan with a drop of water. If sand is still present then repeat the process. I can hear some of you saying it is not worth the effort, but it will be worth it when you get them cooked in front of you. You can also buy frozen and tinned Clams, but it is not the same as the fresh option.
Tip 1. Plain and simple Clam cooking
This is really very plain and simple cooking of Clams. For a starter or nibble you will need around 400 g of Clams in their shells. If any do not close when tapped discard them because they will be dead. In a suitable saucepan soften a tablespoon of onion and a garlic clove, both finely chopped, add the Clams with a glass of dry white wine a sprig or two of chopped parsley, put the lid on the pan and steam until open. The process will not take more than two or three minutes. If you cook them too long they will feel like shoe leather. If any of the Clams do not open discard. Serve in a bowl with the juice and a chunk of lemon With some good home-made bread they will taste wonderful.
Tip 2. Clam cooking with style and flair
This version is an extended and enhanced version of the above and could turn the dish into a main course. You can choose your own combinations to match your own tastes, but the one that I suggest has an Iberian influence to it. Use the same ingredients as in ‘Plain and Simple’ but replace the white wine with a good red wine, per person add 75 g of chopped Chorizo sausage, tablespoons of diced red pepper and de seeded and skinned tomatoes, 75 g of small chunks of potato and a sprinkle of paprika, and steam until opened A great taste from Spain.
Tip 3. Something a little different for cooking Clams
An alternative to Scallops. Served in Scallop shell with a circle of mashed potato surrounding. You will need 75 g of lightly cooked Clam meat per person, along with 25 g onion and a clove of garlic chopped, 125 ml of shellfish stock or strong fish stock, a dash of Pernod, flour to thicken, 50 ml of double cream, 15 g grated Parmesan and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs.
Soften the onion and garlic in a pan with a touch of Olive oil, add the stock, add the cream and Pernod. Check the consistency the sauce needs to coat the back of a spoon, if not thicken with flour mixed with water. Add the Clams to warm, not cook. Place in the center of a Scallop shell or something similar, surround with mashed potato, top with the cheese and breadcrumbs and grill until golden brown.