Submitted by Julez Orr and Laurie Freeman
Hey, razor clam fans: It’s time to haul the shovel out of storage and dust off the waders because tentative fall and winter clam digs were announced last week.
Razor clam digs. Tentative fall and winter razor clam digs on the Long Beach Peninsula are:
Oct. 6, Friday, 7:49 p.m.; -0.4 feet; Long Beach
Oct. 7, Saturday, 8:33 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Long Beach
Nov. 3, Friday, 6:47 p.m.; -0.7 feet; Long Beach
Nov. 4, Saturday, 7:31 p.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach
Nov. 5, Sunday, 7:16 p.m.; -1.4 feet; Long Beach
Dec. 2, Saturday, 6:49 p.m.; -1.9 feet; Long Beach
Dec. 3, Sunday, 6:15 p.m.; -1.6 feet; Long Beach
Dec. 4, Monday, 7:02 p.m.; -1.8 feet; Long Beach
Dec. 31, Sunday, 5:12 p.m.; -1.2 feet; Long Beach
Clam digging is a quintessential coastal activity on the Long Beach Peninsula, where miles and miles of silver-sand beach open up to razor clam diggers each fall and winter. It’s pure family fun that’s as popular with locals as it is with visitors. Daily limits are 15 clams per licensed digger, so it’s easy to pull a feast from the sand in less than an hour.
You can borrow clam guns for free from the Visitors Bureau in Seaview. And shellfish licenses can be purchased from the Seaview Mobil station across the street from the VB, Dennis Company and Pioneer Market in Long Beach and Jack’s Country Store in Ocean Park.
How to dig and clean. Find digging and cleaning instructions here, as well as a few favorite recipes.
You’ve bought your shellfish license and hauled the clam gun out of storage. You‘ve dusted off the waders and repaired the old mesh net. You’ve pulled your limit of razor clams from the sand and are feeling pretty good about yourself.
So, now what? Digging razor clams is the fun part, but cleaning and cooking the shapely bivalves can be a challenge. Luckily, we’re here to help.
Step 1) First things first. Make sure you have the necessities before heading out to dig – a Washington state shellfish license and clam gun or shovel are absolute musts. Familiarize yourself with daily limits, dig times and dig rules.
Step 2) Flushing. Now that your daily limit is sitting in the kitchen sink, you’ll want to soak the razor clams in a pot of water (we prefer salt water) for two to three hours. This allows the razor clams to flush sand out of their systems.
Step 3) Cleaning. This YouTube video below clearly shows the cleaning process. Quickly blanch your razor clams before cleaning to open shells. The cleaning process takes only a couple minutes per clam and yields a good portion of meat.
Step 4) Cooking. Here’s where things can get tricky. Not because razor clams are difficult to cook (the opposite is true!), but because there are so many appetizing options. We’ll stick with the Big Three: chowders, fritters and fries.
Recipes. Fried razor clams: 2 eggs; 1 cup all-purpose flour; 1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs); Cleaned razor clams; Salt to taste; Pepper to taste; Oil for frying. Beat eggs in a bowl. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a second bowl. Place panko in third bowl. Dip clams into the egg, then flour, then panko, covering clams evenly. Heat oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Fry clams until lightly brown, about 1 minute on each side. Dry on paper towels. Serve with your favorite condiment.
Clam fritters (from Ilwaco High School culinary arts class): 1/2 cup all-purpose flour; 1 tablespoon baking powder; 1/4 teaspoon salt; 1/8 teaspoon pepper; 9 ounces minced clams; 1 egg; 3 tablespoons milk; 1/3 cup diced onion; 1/3 cup grated potato; 1/3 cup cranberries (mashed for juice); 1 cup bread crumbs; Oil for frying. Combine and mix ingredients. Form into 2-inch diameter patties. Heat oil in skillet to medium-high heat. Fry patties until golden brown (about 1-2 minutes each side). Dry on paper towels. Serve with your favorite condiment.
Clam chowder: Now here’s where things get really tricky. Clam chowder tastes can be as personal as our own palate. Some like their chowder thick and creamy; others like it thin and soupy. Some like it milky; some like it buttery. Some, apparently, even like it red. Here’s a simple recipe to get you started. 1 pound thick-cut bacon strips, diced; 2 pounds potatoes, diced; 1 onion, minced; 2 cloves garlic, minced; 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour; 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk; 1 cup heavy cream; 10-16 ounces diced razor clams; 1 bay leaf; Salt and pepper to taste. Cook bacon until crisp. Add potatoes, onion and garlic to fat; cook 7-10 minutes. Stir in flour; cook together about 1 minute. Add evaporated milk, heavy cream, clam liquid and bay leaf to potato mixture; stir. Bring mixture to simmer, reduce heat to medium, cook until potatoes soften, about 15 minutes. Add clams; cook until clams are hot.
Hungry for more razor clam recipes? The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife offers more than a dozen razor clam recipes on its website.