With summer upon us and seafood in abundance, here's some great info on the right way to eat soft shell clams – aka “steamers”:

Traditionally served steamed in a bucket with sides of hot broth and melted butter, steamers are one of the great treats of the season. To eat them, use your fingers to gently peel them out of their shell and pull off the skin covering the siphon. Then, grip the siphon with your fingers, swirl the clam around in the hot broth (to warm up the clam and wash away any sand or grit), dip the clam into the melted butter, and YUM!

By the way, you can eat the siphon. It is rubbery and tough, especially compared to the tender body of the steamer clam, but it is indeed edible.

Here are some really cool facts about these clams that you probably didn't know, courtesy of NJ Sea Grant:

-- When disturbed, the soft shell clam it will squirt a stream of water upwards from its siphon. This ability has earned it the popular nickname that is not exactly polite or suitable for radio, lol!

-- The steamer's chalky white oval shell is so thin and brittle (hence the term soft shell) that the clam has to bury itself for protection. It can’t even fully close its shell like others of its kind (clams, mussels, scallops) to elude its numerous predators.

-- Aside from humans, those other predators include crabs, snails, seastars (aka star fish) and even foxes and raccoons!

-- To feed itself, the soft shell clam can only suck in water and hope there is enough plankton passing through to make a meal.

-- If left undisturbed, the steamer can live up to twelve years—that is, if you like spending an entire lifetime burrowed in one spot!



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