Steamer Clams

Steamer Clams

Mya arenaria

Market Name(s): Steamer,

Primary Source(s): Coastal Maine to Cape Cod

Soft Shell Clams have many names but are best known as the “Steamer” clam.  Regardless of what they are called, these clams thrive in our North Atlantic waters and are a staple to regional cuisine – a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Many chefs are “rediscovering” these clams and exploring less traditional preparations than simply steaming or frying them; many view their versatility as a cross between a razor clam and Pacific Geoduck.

More brittle than soft, their chalky white oval shells are thin and can be easily chipped or broken if not handled properly. Unlike their hard shell cousins like the Littleneck that can close completely, the soft shell clam’s “neck” (actually a siphon) remains outside of the shell leaving the clam agape. The siphon is covered in a darkish skin that most prefer to remove prior to eating. Soft shell clams range in size but usually are not larger than three inches long. They have a surprisingly long life span – though they begin to reproduce at one year, they can live up to 10-12 years.

Substitutions: Razor Clam, Littleneck Clam, Geoduck Clam