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What Are the Different Types of Clams?
- Atlantic hard-shell clams (aka quahogs) can be sold as chowder clams (large and tough), cherrystones (medium), and littlenecks (small, tender, and sweet).
- Manilla clams are a type of hard-shell clam found in the Pacific ocean and can be eaten raw.
- Soft-shell clams (aka steamers) have thin shells with siphons (necks) that stick out. They are highly perishable and often a little sandy. They include razor clams and geoducks.
What Are the Different Types of Mussels?
- Farm-raised mussels grow on a rope that hangs down into the water. Since they don’t touch the seafloor, they contain less grit than wild mussels. Most edible mussels are farm-raised.
- Wild mussels live at the bottoms of oceans or bays or on rocks and often contain some grit.
- Green mussels are found in Asia and New Zealand.
- Freshwater mussels look similar to sea mussels, but they’re not typically eaten.
Chef Thomas Keller’s Top 3 Tips for Purchasing Clams and Mussels
After purchasing your mussels and clams, make sure to properly clean and store them to keep them fresh.
- It is best to purchase clams and mussels close to their source. The less they’ve had to travel, the more likely they are to be fresh.
- Their shells should be closed. Discard clams and mussels with cracked shells or shells that do not close when tapped, which may not contain a living creature. (Yes—you want your mussels and clams to be alive when you cook them.)
- Store them on top of ice in a perforated container set over a deeper container to allow the melting ice to drain into and to avoid the shellfish being immersed in water.
How Many Clams or Mussels Per Person?
For appetizer courses, consider purchasing ½ pound of mussels or clams per person. If the shellfish serves as the main course, however, 1 to 1 ½ pounds per person should be sufficient. Consider our recipe for steamed mussels in garlicky broth for a simple supper or as part of a showstopping meal.
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