The Chinese Grocery store is a place well worth an adventure. The stores have so much variety and the qualities are generally satisfactory. Asian cooking does not have much taboo as Western cooking, especially North America. The living standard in Asian is high and people pay more respect to food. We eat almost anything. Things that run, fly, swim we devour. One type of food attracts the general admiration is the seafood and shellfish. Chinese grocery stores have particular sections built around the supply of seafood.
There are great varieties of fish, and shellfish. Some are kept in aquariums live to ensure freshness. When you approach the shellfish section, you can easily see a kind of long shell fish, something that looks like clams, gathered in a bundle and stand in the ice. They are not too expensive and it is a treasure amongst sea foods. They are the Razor Clams 蟶子.
Razor clams are harvested in the East Coast which is called the Pacific variety. It is sometimes called Geoduck. Chinese people go crazy over this item. They can be used in ordinary pan fry, soup, Chinese hot pot and even sashimi. Sea Urchin roe and Geoduck sashimi are both popular in the Japanese food arena. The ones harvested in the West Coast is the Atlantic variety. It is a long smaller compared in size with the Pacific type. The Atlantic variety has long narrow thin shells compared with the rock hard, thick shell of the Pacific type. Of course the meat textures are not the same. The Pacific type is tight and more bounce whereas the Atlantic type displays a soft, mellow, sweet flavour.
The clams are very versatile in their usages. They can be roasted in garlic butter, poached plain, make into salad, pan fried with black bean sauce and also served with pasta to make an interesting dish. The clam meat takes no time to cook and it smells wonder when put on a BBQ with herb butter. Deep frying the clam meat with a batter will win in every way.
One thing important with handling the clams is cleaning. The clams remain immerged in the sand and they have an intake of sand to help their digestive system. We need to clean the clams thoroughly and get rid of the sand. This can be done easy enough by soaking the clams in clean water and add a little vinegar to the water. The acid would agitate the clams enough that it will spill out the sand. The shells are soft yet they are sharp at time. It is good practice to put on a pair of gloves when you are cleaning the clams. You open up the clams push the body aside and you will see a black sac. Just clean out the sacs and whatever dirt that is adhere to the clam. Some people would snip the tip of the clam as that is where the mouth is. You can also take the meat out, clean them and put them back to half of the shell for a good appearance.
The clam meat is so versatile and sweet you can even make a Ceviche by adding a salsa and lime juice. The acid from the lime juice would eventually cook the clam meat. You can also add shrimps to the lime juice for accompaniment and taste. The caution is not to overcook the clams. They are delicate and can be overcooked very easily. There is also serving the clams with pasta With such a variety, how can you lose?
A summer night, warm breeze, turn on your BBQ, cook up your razor clam, a bottle of your favorite white wine, move your TV set outdoors and watch on DVD Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing the night away under a star lit sky. Who said there is no reward in cooking?