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National Clams on the Half Shell Day

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National Clams on the Half Shell Day is observed each year on March 31.  This food holiday is a day for the clam lovers to enjoy a special dish.

The best variety of hardshell clams (also called Quahogs) for serving on the half-shell is the topneck, but you will find recipes using littlenecks and cherrystone as well. The topnecks run about two inches across, and the meaty clam is enough for a bite-sized morsel of Atlantic saltwater goodness.

Clams on the half shell can be raw, steamed, grilled or even smoked.

One popular “on the half shell” recipe originated in Rhode Island.  Often served as an appetizer, Clams Casino is a dish with toasted breadcrumbs and bacon.  Legend has it the recipe for Clam Casino dates back to 1917 and the Little Casino in Narragansett, Rhode Island.  According to Good Housekeeping Great American Classics, maître d’hôtel Julius Keller and Mrs. Paran Stevens developed clams casino for her guests, as she wanted to serve up something special.  Naming the dish after the hotel, word soon spread of its popularity and began appearing on menus across the nation.

From foodimentary:

Five Food Finds about Clams 
  • The Giant clam has a lifespan of over 100 years.
  • The clam has no head, no biting mouth parts and no arms or legs.
  • A clam two or three inches in diameter would probably be three to five years old.
  • It takes about 25 to 28 months for clam larvae to reach a market size clam.
  • Clams feed year-round, though they feed less in winter because they need less energy.

From MontereyBoats:

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?

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