Monday, April 23, 2007

Razor Clams in White Wine Sauce

I am generally not much of a fan of shellfish i.e. I will happily eat it but won’t seek it out. The one exception is Razor clams or Atlantic Razors that I tasted for the first time at the house of a friend in Rapallo on the Italian Riviera. These guys were an absolute revelation and I’ve eaten them at every opportunity since. One thing that always intrigued me is that the Razors in Italy where much smaller than what I get in the shops and restaurants here in the UK. This even though I knew that most of the European Razor clam catches are in fact in Scotland.

The explanation for this turns out to be two separate subspecies of Razor clams, Ensis siliqua and Ensis. Arcuatus. The former gets exported to the Far East whereas the latter is exported to continental Europe to cater to different local tastes. For some reason us Londoners get the siliqua variation which is much larger than its cousin.

I like Razor Clams as simply cooked as possible as per the recipe below.


  1. 8 Razor Clams;
  2. Half a stalk of leak finely chopped;
  3. A large clove of garlic chopped;
  4. 100 ml white wine;
  5. 15 ml olive oil;
  6. 15 gr butter;
  • Buy these things cleaned if you can but otherwise you need to start by cutting of the entire “beard” and soak the clams in plenty of cold water. Razor clams are basically long cylinders that live covered in sand on sandy ocean floors and as a consequence the first thing to do is to get them to spit out all the sand inside them. By putting them in fresh i.e. non salty, water they basically think they are suffocating and start to spit out their guts. Drain and dry well;
  • Soften the garlic and leak at high heat in the olive oil and butter add the clams and turn to coat in the mixture;
  • Pour over the wine and let boil covered for about 3 – 4 minutes;
  • The clams (if they are alive) will open up during the cooking so you can use them as a container for the sauce. Lay them out on plates and scoop the sauce into the clams and serve.

The recipe above is as simple a recipe as possible but I have tasted a variety of different recipes. Simply replacing the wine with lemon substantially changes the taste without subtracting anything from the clams. Another simple addition that I’ve had and liked is a small quantity of Soya sauce. This changes the “type” of taste because the sauce becomes much more tart and salty but does not overwhelm the clam taste.

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