I regularly prepare New England-style clam chowder with all fresh ingredients except for canned clams which I use out of convenience. I have been feeling guilty of trying to pass my recipe off as "fresh clam chowder" and I want to make it better. I would like to pick up a bag of fresh clams at the grocery store and use them as an ingredient.

I basically want to know should I shuck the clams and add them to my soup raw, or should I steam them and pry the cooked clam meat out?

2 Answers 2


Cook them first. I consulted few recipes including this very representative 5 star recipe from Anne Burrell, she uses one dozen little neck or cherry stone clams per serving.

Scrub the clams and put them over high heat with one cup of water, covered, for 6-7 minutes. Remove open clams (careful, don't waste any juice). Continue cooking unopened clams for another 2-3 minutes. Toss clams that haven't opened. Remove shells and coarsely chop meat, again, careful with the juice. Strain the clam juice from the clams themselves and from the pan through a coffee filter.

The clams are added to the soup as the very last step, so you won't overcook them this way.

As always with a Food Network recipe, it's worthwhile to read the reviews, but take them with a grain of salt. Some people are idiots. Have fun!

  • 1
    I thought the "don't eat shellfish that don't open" thing was a myth. Seems like a waste.
    – Catija
    Feb 3, 2015 at 21:59
  • 1
    @Catija Hopefully they will all open. It's not a myth, you can't know how long a dead clam has been dead. I suppose you could pry open any that didn't open, sniff, and taste a bit if it smells OK, but I wouldn't. The extra 2-3 minutes is to give the clams an extra chance to open; you could certainly try 2-3 minutes one more time. washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/01/…
    – Jolenealaska
    Feb 3, 2015 at 22:12
  • Bah, who in the right mind would struggle to open a closed muscle/clam. They seal shut like nothing else. To me, its natures way of saying please don't eat this one I'll try and kill you. "Seems like a waste", seems like a waste of energy trying to open it...
    – Doug
    Feb 4, 2015 at 1:47
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    A clam with a closed shell before cooking is not dead. The muscle has to be alive to pull it shut; hence "you don't know how long a dead clam has been dead" doesn't apply to a bivalve that's tightly shut after cooking. See How do I determine if my mussels are fresh? on this very site and abc.net.au/science/articles/2008/10/29/2404364.htm
    – jscs
    Feb 4, 2015 at 18:09

Chop them raw and put in soup, simmer only like 10 minutes, remove from heat & let sit 20 minutes. If you steam prior, they will be tough

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