Razor clams are perhaps the most perverted food I’ve seen at a market. Long and kind a phallic – the live mollusk wiggling and poking out of its shell. Open the shell up and surprise…the inside looks akin to a woman’s naughty bits. Innuendos, blushing brides and 40-year old virgins be damned – razor clams are delicious and none too difficult to clean and easy to cook.
Razor clams are a cousin to the clam but their shell is much more fragile and longer and slender. There is also a type of razor clam that resembles a stretched mussel. Razor clams are found deep inside the sand in shallow sea waters and deltas. In Greece, one of the regions where razor clams can be found in the delta of the Evros River in eastern Thrace (near Turkey). They are spotted only by eying two holes in the sand as they suck and expel water as they breath and eat.
In Greek, razor clams are known as “solines” or “petro solines” and they have two ends: the foot which is used to manoeuvre of push itself up to a meter deep into the sand when it senses danger. The other end of the razor clam is where the two holes are (breathing, taking in water with one hole and expelling with the other).
There are many methods and ways to clean and cook razor clams. Some will eat the razor clams whole whithout removing the intestinal tract and much like not deveining shrimps – you will not get ill but eating the innards of a creature is not appetizing either. The shell of the razor clam is also easy to open but so as to not mangle the meat, I like to quickly steam them open, slice open the meat and remove the intestinal tract.
Razor clams cook very quickly and they are wonderful steamed, sautéed, grilled or in this case – broiled. Today we’re going to prepare razor clams in three steps: rinse, steam then clean them; then will prepare a delicious herb bread topping then we’ll place the razor clams in the oven to broil enough to just crsip up the crumb topping.
Steamed & Broiled Razor Clams (Σωληνες Αχνιστα και Ψητα)
1 bunch (approx. 1lb). of fresh/live razor clams
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced red pepper
2-3 Tbsp. dry white wine
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
approx. 1 cup breadcrumbs
zest of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
chopped fresh chives/scallions, parsley, lemon wedge
- Quickly rinse your razor clams under cold running water and strain. Place a skillet on your stove-top over high heat and a couple of turns of olive oil and once hot, add the razor clams and a splash of wine and cover. Steam until just opened and remove from the heat then strain and reserve the liquid.
- Place the skillet back on the stove-top over medium heat and add the remaining olive oil, scallions, garlic and red peppers and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until just softened. Now add the reserved liquid then breadcrumbs and stir until toasted and most of the liquid is absorbed. Take off the heat and stir in the chopped tarragon, parsley, thyme and lemon zest and allow to cool.
- In the meantime, pre-heat your oven and set to the broiler setting with the rack placed in the highest position. Your razor clams should be cool enough to handle: slice them open lengthwise and remove any of the dark matter you see inside – that’s the digestive tract. The rest of the meat is good to eat! Now repeat and clean each razor clam.
- Spoon the breadcrumb mixture into each razor clam and place on a baking tray. When the oven is hot enough, place the tray in the oven and broil the razor clams until just golden and crisp (about 5 minutes). Carefully remove from the oven and transfer to a serving plate and top with chopped fresh chives/scallions, parsley and wedges of lemon.
- Serve as a meze with Ouzo or Tsipouro on ice or, open a chilled bottle of Vouvoukeli Lagara White from Xanthi.
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