By Well Seasoned, Feb 28 2019 02:00AM
If you’re brave enough to go to the beach in late Winter, try hunting for razor clams (or, as they’re known in Scotland, ‘spoots’.) These elongated molluscs resemble the shape of a cut-throat razor, hence the name, and they make for excellent eating.
Despite the risk of some pretty inclement weather, February is a good time to collect and eat shellfish because most will spawn during the warmer summer months. For some reason (as with many of our shellfish) we don’t eat many razor clams in the UK, but they are gobbled up by our continental cousins, and for good reason. Their flesh is firm and meaty, and although it has a fairly subtle taste, it partners very well with some big, bold flavours. In Portugal and Spain they are frequently cooked up with chorizo and other spicy meats.
If you want to try catching your own, first you need to locate a likely razor clam bed. There’s nothing like a bit of local knowledge, so do some research and ask around first, but sandy, flat beaches are their preferred habitat. You’ll need to check tide tables and aim to be on the beach at the beginning of the slack, low, spring tide (the very lowest tide) in order to have an hour at the lowest water line. Then look for little keyhole-shaped holes in the sand.
Using a large spouted bottle, pour several tablespoons of fine table salt into the hole and wash it down with water from a squeezy washing-up-liquid bottle or similar. The high salt levels irritate the clam and after a few moments you should see the surface being pushed upwards before the top erupts out of the sand. Grip the shell between two fingers, then firmly but slowly pull the clam out from its burrow. Make sure you grab the shell quickly and hold on; if you let go or wait too long they will bury themselves back in almost as quickly as they came out.
Your razor clam should be at least 10 centimetres (4-inches) in length. If it is, put it in your bucket. If not, put him back for another day.
If you draw blank or don't fancy the bracing weather, your local fishmonger should be able to help you out, with a bit of notice.
Razor clams are a little fiddly to prepare but once the clams are steamed open, the meat will pull easily from the shell and the inedible parts can be cut away.
Lay the clam flat on the board with the rounder end to the left, cut this off close to the dark sac. Lift the frilly wing up and slice off the cylindrical piece of meat with the pointed end. Now trim the wing away from the dark sac. Scrape off any odd bits of sand as you go. Now the meat can be sliced into halfcentimetre pieces ready to use. If you’re unsure at any point, the internet has plenty of useful videos on fish and shellfish preparation.