The weather’s so gorgeous, do we deserve this? (My friend Jake calls these “Conversations That Never Happen in L.A.”) It is the most incredible October ever.
I’m not waterfront yet, but the loss of fall leaves combined with electric sunset backlighting from the nearby edge is dramatic and ominous at the same time.
The beach was crowded, with cars and trucks
The low tides often correspond with the sunset, making for scenic silhouette razor clammer pictures. Everyone is wearing knee-high rubber boots and on these occasions I am Washaway fashionable, even without clams.
“They’re not just, like, a big ol’ rubbery loogie?” I asked.
After he and Marcy caught their limit of 15 clams each they were going to go home, clean them and sautee them with butter and olive oil, mushrooms, red peppers and onions. Since I’d only heard of breading and frying them or making chowder, I decided to give their preparation a whirl.
And they were tender and tasty, I have to say, subtle and mild in flavor but not rubbery, a texture thing, the texture being like that of a sauteed mushroom.
So I decided to school myself about razor clams, seeing how I’d been rushing to judgment all these years. Their Latin name is Siliqua patula, Pacific razor clam, due to a resemblance to a folded straight razor. And I would’ve called it Pruning Saw Clam. They are a large edible bivalve mollusk with a life expectancy of 5 years. Their maximum size is 6 inches, though these are seldom found.
Harvesters look for a dime-sized hole in the ground called a “show” that can resemble a dimple, a doughnut, or a keyhole. The tool of the trade is a clam gun, which works on the same principle as a straw placed in a Coke with your thumb over the top, enabling the removal of a core sample.
Fun fact: when Hitchcock was visiting a coastal town in California one time, all the seabirds were going nuts, which served to later inform and inspire his classic film “The Birds”, and the culprit was domoic acid.
What sounds hard is the cleaning of the clams. You run boiling water over them for 5 seconds until they open. Then you shell them and put them in cold water. With a kitchen scissors, you then remove the dark parts of the clam–siphon, gills and digestive tract.
“It’s not hard, it’s tedious,” Marcy told me. “You open them up and take kitchen scissors and cut out the stomach and the poop and the crystal straw. They all have that thing. I’ll save you one if you want.”I asked Marcy what she thought was the reason for the enduring appeal of razor clamming. Is it because it’s so easy to do, young and old can do it? Are they THAT good? Is it free food? Or does it have to do with a connectedness to nature, to the land, to the ocean, to the food we eat, sea to table?