Friday, August 10, 2012

New England Summah - Steamahs

Last week, we went over how to make a propah lobstah roll.  A good New England summah pahty always needs some appetizahs though, so this week we're gonna talk about anotha of my favorites - steamahs!!

Steamahs, or steamed clams, are usually what we eat down the beach before the lobstahs come around.  A "steamah" is a soft shell clam that lies buried in the mud of tidal mudflats.  Like other bivalves, they have a long neck that makes its way above the mud to suck in seawater which is filtered for food and then spit back out.  Some people actually call these "piss clams" because sometimes when they are hahvested from the mud they spit out the water they are holding, resembling someone takin' a piss.  They are also known as longneck clams.

This year, Dad decided we were gonna old school and fatten our clams up with cornmeal.  I was excited because the last time I can remembah doing this was when I was about 7 years old.  The process is pretty simple - fill a bucket with seawater, dump in your clams, and add cornmeal.  Why do this?  Well, it helps to get ya a less mucky more flavaful clam, that's why.  What happens is the clams will do their regular eatin' routine, suckin' in the cornmeal seawater and spittin' out the refuse water.  This fills their bellies nicely and adds some sweetness from the cornmeal to the flava of the clam.

A bucket of ocean
Add in ya clams
Now add in ya cornmeal
It really doesn't mattah how much cornmeal ya add as long as you don't add too little.  Clams live in the mud so if ya put too much in you're not gonna bury them to death.  You're basically giving them a huge buffet!  So, my advice is to err on the heavy side.  Use a half can to a whole can.  Dad and I went with about 3/4 on this batch which was more than enough and left a few clams buried at the bottom.  Fill a bag with some ice and toss it in to keep the water cold.  You can use a towel to insulate and get more life outta ya ice too.

Clams like some privacy when they're gettin' their gorge on
You will wanna give the clams some time to get their grub on so hit the beach for a few beers and some bocce.  Just keep in mind that the loser in bocce has to pick up the balls when you're done!

Dad playin' pickup!  A rare sight!!
Murky water is a good thing, it means bellies are gettin' fat!
As ya can see, the water is a lot more murky than it was when we stahted.  That's the clams doing their thing.  From what I've seen, they love the cornmeal.  Just look at how happy they look!

Necks out, bellies full
Consider it a nice final meal on death row for 'em because after ya strain out the water and leftovah cornmeal, into the pot they go!!

The steam pot
Take whatevah type of steam pot ya can get your hands on.  This one is one that we've used since I was a kid that goes right on the stove.  We've also used one of those outdoor steam pots that sits on a rack ovah a burnah.  The lowah pot is filled with water and the upper pot is basically a strainah that allows the steam from below to cook the clams.  Now, some knuckleheads will add potatoes, lemon, herbs, and other crap like that.  That's nonsense.  It takes too much time and, much like eatin' lobstah, you're gonna wanna get the flava of the clam!

Clams gettin' steamy!
You'll want to let the steamahs go for a bit until you take a peek in and see lots of open shells.  Stay away from closed shells as they likely ahn't cooked through.  Remembah to save the water from the steamah pot as you'll wanna dunk your steamah in there aftah you've removed it from the shell and peeled off the exteriah neck lining.  From there either pound it down or dunk it in a little drawn buttah and then send it down the hatch!

Salty, sweet, delicious
So, there ya have it.  Now you've got two major ingredients to a propah New England Summah seafood pahty.  Aftah that it's simple stuff like fresh shucked oystahs, corn on the cob, pahdaydah salad, and maybe a gahden salad if you like that healthy stuff.  Of course you'll also want some beers to wash it all down.  Or maybe some champagne?  Or maybe The Champagne of Beers?

Livin' the High Life!
There's not much time left so make sure to enjoy the rest of the summah!

1 comment:

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