Most of our hard shell clams go to France and Spain, where they are enjoyed raw, eaten just as you would an oyster. They are also cooked like mussels or steamed, stuffed and baked or made into clam chowder in New England.
Hard shell clams are different to the more popular palourde clam, they tend to be a lot bigger, the shell is heavier, thicker and more triangular in shape. In terms of taste, there's not that much difference, they have a stronger taste which is why they work well in a chowder.
Here are some suggestion on how you can enjoy our hard shell clams:
Eat them Raw
The clams come from our river where they grow wild, we bring them to the Fishery where they are depurated so you can be confident eating them raw. The only drawback to this is getting them open, they are well known to be difficult to open, so if you are going to have them raw order the small ones. Open them like an oyster, tip away the water inside the shell and squeeze a wedge of lemon on to the meat at enjoy, remembering to chew the sweet meat, don't just swallow it.
Make a Chowder
Hard shell clams are really popular in New England, USA, where they make them into a chowder with potato, bacon, onions and cream, it's delicious and really comforting on a cold winters day. Rick Stein has a really good clam chowder recipe that he suggests serving in a hollowed out sourdough loaf, it's worth a look.
Stuffed Baked Clams
This is another New England favourite, the clams are steamed then the meat removed chopped and mixed with breadcrumbs, bacon, herbs and cheese then the mix is stuffed back into the shells and they are baked until golden.
If you want to use the clam meat in a recipe like a linguine, risotto or to add to a fish pie then it's best to steam them. Just place them in a steamer for 4-5 minutes and the meat will steam inside the shell. This will make the clam easier to open and you can then remove the meat to use as you wish.