Clams represent some of the most popular kinds of shellfish.
Popular in the Asian and Mediterranean cuisines, clams are available in a wide variety of species – some of them more popular than others.
They can be cooked and eaten in more ways.
Most people would rather cook them, yet there are certain dishes that require clams to be left raw.
When it comes to cooking them, you can fry, bake or steam them.
Now, what do clams taste like? Whether you want to know what to pair them with or you are not sure if you like them, here is what you have to know.
What are Clams?
Clams are basically some mollusks.
They have two muscles, which have the primary purpose to keep shells together.
At the same time, while not always visible, the clam has a burrowing foot, which allows it to dig.
Clams live in rivers and oceans.
Most of the time, they live in shallow waters.
Also, they enjoy staying buried, so they choose sandy and muddy places.
When it comes to their size, clams vary widely.
Some of them are tiny and may measure less than a millimeter – almost invisible to spot.
Some others can go up to four feet in diameter.
Obviously, such sizes are quite hard to find.
Now that you know a few things about clams, what do they actually taste like and how can you cook them?
What Do Clams Taste Like?
Clams are delicious if mixed into the right dishes.
They can taste differently, depending on the time of the year, as well as the species.
There are five common species out there – Atlantic hard shell clams, Pacific geoducks, soft shell clams, razor clams and surf clams.
Where they live will also influence the taste.
For instance, some clams can be sweet, while others tend to be salty.
When it comes to the time of the year, clams harvested during the warm summer months are sweet because they feed on plants.
On the other hand, clams harvester during the cold winter months will mostly feed on algae, so they have a salty flavor.
No matter which type you get, you will find a mild aroma.
It is worth noting that some species in particular tend to be a bit bitter, but they can still work well in certain dishes.
Such species include quahogs when out of season.
Given the mild flavor, clams will not really affect the taste of a dish, yet some species may bring in more distinctive aromas.
Take the littleneck clam, for instance.
Steam it and its taste will definitely stand out in the crowd – in the good way, of course.
Bottom line, clams are normally expected to be salty, but at the end of the day, it depends on the environment they live in.
Curious about the fishy aroma? According to Greatist, it is there, indeed.
However, it is not too powerful, so it will not feel too disturbing.
How to Prepare and Cook Clams?
Make sure clams are not dead when you get them.
Tap them gently and the shells should close.
There should be no broken shells either.
Now, there are more ways to cook clams and steaming them is by far the most popular one.
You can steam them in water, wine or anything else you may like.
They should not be steamed for more than two or three minutes, while obviously shaking.
Make sure all the shells are open.
Clams can also be boiled.
You can do it in all sorts of liquids – water or sauce, for example.
For instance, you can cook clams into your pasta – add them with the sauce just minutes before the end.
You do not want to overcook them and they only require a few minutes.
While not extremely common, clams can also be eaten raw.
Simply put, this dish is referred to as sashimi and is more common in a few Asian cuisines.
They can also be sucked out of their shells.
Other forms of cooking include dehydrating, smoking and pickling them.
There are a few precautions.
Apart from avoiding dead clams, make sure they are also clean – no broken shells or sand.
As a short final conclusion, clams are extremely versatile and can be used in a series of combinations.
Unless you are aware of the environment they have been in, you might be surprised by the taste – you might expect something salty, only to end up with sweet clams instead.
In terms of versatility, you can cook clams in so many ways that you will barely know what to choose.
The best part is that their fishy aroma is not too intense – instead, they have a mild flavor that can complement any dish combination out there.