Venus Clams (Γυαλιστερές)

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I’ve been in Greece almost two weeks and I must say that I’ve been enjoying the fish seafood wholeheartedly. While at my family’s summer home in Nea Kallikratia (Halkidiki) I head down for 1 swim 2 swims a day at a nearby beach that mostly families visit. Each year I see folks who have been coming for a swim since I was 13 years old. Some of my old time friends now have their own families and they come with their children. Some of the oldr folks now come with their grandparents. It’s nice to see these familiar faces each year I come back to Greece for another memorable holiday.

I also make some new friends like George, who’s also been in Kallikratia for many years but I’ve only come to meet him in the last few years. George likes to go diving for octopus, squid and shellfish in the very same waters where we swim everyday and this year he’s hit the jackpot with venus clams (Gialysteres). Venus clams are found in most Greek waters (and in Mediterranean) and they are small to medium in size. Venus clams have a peach and pink colour with light striping on the outside and they contain this sweet orange-coloured meat accompanied by a sand-sac and some white meat attached to the shells.

The white meat plus the succulent orange meat are edible and sweet to the taste but the sand-sac must be removed or simply not eaten. Venus clams can be steamed or baked in parchment but the cooking process can be a bit involved as there is the issue of remove the san-sac. My best advice is to steam the clams until just opened, remove the sand-sac (the visibly dark sac below the orange meat) and then continue to cook your venus clams.

My best advice to you is to eat venus clams raw. They are easily shucked by keeping them in the fridge  in a plastic pail with sea water and you’ll see them open up….begging to be shucked. If you can wait for the clams to open a bit, venus clams open easily by taking holding the clam in your palm with one hand and hold the knife in another. The venus clam’s mouth is facing out towards the your other hand (holding the knife). Ensure the clam is held securely and simply place the knife across where the two shells are closed. A little movement back & forth with the knife and your clam will open. Slide the knife to either side of the hinge and open wide with your hands.

Now you have a shucked venus clam waiting to be eaten. Simply squeeze some lemon juice on them and bite-off the orange meat inside. The dark sand-sac should be still there in the shell. You can discard the shell or peep the white meat attached to both shells (also sweet and delicious). This is one of best mezes to serve with Ouzo and despite George having brought buckets of the venus clams this year – I relish this ritual of slurping venus clams and sipping Ouzo on ice.

Off to the beach I go but before I go, here’s a video I took of me squeezing the lemon juice on the venus clams….watch them move as the lemon juice hits them….THEY’RE ALIVE!!!

© 2011,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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7 Comments for “Venus Clams (Γυαλιστερές)”



I would rather say that some of the older folks come with their grandchildren, not with their grandparents. Funny note aside, given the food, nature and… well, everything else in Halkidiki, that might not be quite a stretch.


Wow, doesn’t get much fresher than that. But I have trouble envisioning those still-moving clams chatting with each other on the plate – “Oh no, he’s coming after us.”


its been a long time since i had venus clams – again, another of those delicacies not often found in hania
looks like you are having a wonderful time here peter – enjoy it while you can!