21st April 2012
Oot, Damned Spoot!
Grilled Spoots

Razor clams. Damn those razor clams. I keep trying with them - I mean surely there must be something to them - they're ever so popular in all the fancy restaurants. Though on the other hand they are as cheap as dirt. So maybe the fishmongers know something fancy restaurateurs don't?

It so happened that I had a bunch of razor clams (or spoots) that I bought to try using instead of squid in my lacy squid. Incidentally, razor clams don't go lacy. In fact if you cut them up thinly and blanch them they just turn into rubbery bands. What (very) little flavour they ever had seems to be just leached away. So no blanching.

Your first problem when it comes to making something edible out of a razor clam is the grit. They love grit. They're just chock full of grit. Or sand. Or something equally gritty. So you need to rinse them really thoroughly in running water. Preferably overnight. But don't leave them covered in water - they'll just drown.

Your second problem is cleaning them - they're pretty ugly, complicated beasts that need various hard, foul or yes gritty bits removing. Some recipes just steam them like mussels, then slice up the flesh, but others clean and prepare them before cooking. Maybe if you can do this well enough you won't need to leave them all night in running water in your bath. Maybe.
You can persuade them to open up by briefly blanching them in boiling water, or pouring the water over them. (Or by drowning them!)
Cool them off quickly afterwards, though, or they'll turn rubbery.
Once the shells are open the body will easily pull out. You can hunt around the interwebs for videos and pictures of how to clean them (if you can work out what's going on). Mostly it's the used-condom-like digger which produces the best of the flesh. All I got from the rest of the body was something resembling a string bag, but I suppose that might get better with practice.

Your third problem is cooking them in some way that doesn't turn them to rubber. I'm sad to say I haven't found that method yet.
I did try grilling them in garlic butter on their shells, which wasn't too awful. They still turn a bit rubbery, don't have a huge amount of flavour, but you do get a lot of juice so it's nice to have a bit of bread to soak it up - at least the garlic butter tastes good!

Razor Clams with Garlic Butter
starter fish
Yeah, they're still rubbery. They're rubbery if you eat them raw. They're rubbery if you blanch them. They're rubbery if you fry them. Accept it - they're just rubbery.

Use 3-4 spoots per person

Thoroughly rinse the razor clams. Briefly immerse them in boiling water or pour boiling water over them until they open, then plunge into cold water.
Gently pull the bodies free of their shells, trim and clean the edible parts: Cut off the black tip of the siphon neck. Using scissors, cut the clam lengthways up the zipper from the digger along the siphon neck, then cut there again to get the lower chamber of the neck.
Cut around the slippery tan gills, mouth and digger to separate them from the rest of the white body.
Squeeze the digger to reveal the dark stomach then snip around it and the gills and remove them. Remove any crystalline rod or style used by the clam as a digestive enzyme.
Cut the digger open lengthways and clean out any sandy vein.
Rinse the white meat clean of anything dark or brown.

Cut the clam meat up into small pieces, clean a shell per person, slice the bread, preheat your grill.
Press the garlic, mash with butter, mix with the chopped clams and use to fill the cleaned shells. Grind a little pepper over the top.
Place each pair of half-shells on top of a slice of bread on a folded piece of tin foil (to hold the juices).
Grill briefly until they begin to colour, and serve on the bread with a lemon wedge on the side.
I guess you could add minced shallots, tomatoes, herbs, breadcrumbs, spices (say, some crushed fennel seeds) or even prepare them as for Coquille Saint-Jacques, but I don't believe you'll be getting any silk purses out of these little piggies.

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