Razor Clamming- What A Night!


Every day I read the paper online, have for years actually, and when I read that clamming season was going to open for two extended weekends in October, I thought (out loud) how much fun it would be to try. Remember I am a teacher? Well, one of my students, Nick, heard me and we started talking about clamming. I had to confess that even though I have lived in the Pacific Northwest all of my life and I totally love seafood, that I had never been clamming. The next day, Nick brought in a clam gun and net bags for me to borrow.

I texted my friend and neighbor Kathy, and she said “…Yes! Count us in…!” So, after watching the weather reports we decide to go opening day- it was supposed to be the best weather of the two weekends. Low tide should have been around 6:45 pm and that would give us enough time to get to Long Beach if we left right after school let out, and there would still be some daylight left. We were a bit slow to get out of Vancouver, but we really got hung up just south of Astoria, road construction. We landed on the beach just as the sun dipped into the ocean, two hours behind schedule.


We had our boots, buckets, bags, clam guns, headlamps, flash lights and lanterns. I was a little bit worried about the state of the beach… it looked like there was seaweed debris up and down the coastline as far as the eye could see (in the dark).


But when we got down to the surf, the shadows were not seaweed or flotsam and jetsam; they were piles of sand from clams that had already been dug up. I was stunned! It did not seem possible that there was any way there could be any clams left, but right away my daughter yelled, “here’s a hole!” and she dug up a big, beautiful, clam.


It was pitch black, the stars were incredible and we had a wonderful time! The weather was indeed fantastic and we had to watch for waves coming in, but we were alone on the beach, laughing and digging clams.


Kathy and her family quit just shy of their limit, they could have taken sixty but felt fifty was just fine. Sara and I took our limit of thirty- Sara was the first one to dig a clam and she was the first one to make her limit, which she made sure everyone knew every couple of minutes or so… “just sayin’!”

We put our clams in a cooler filled with seawater and they were fine to stay on the patio until we cleaned them (we got home after midnight and just wanted to go to bed- the clams were going to have to wait until the morning!)


Cleaning turned out to be quite easy, we had watched a few videos online and Sara and I made an efficient team. She cut the neck apart and I cut apart the digging foot. We saved a few to give to Nick because he loaned me the equipment, we set aside a few for eating right away and then we cut up the rest to freeze for clam chowder, dip, cakes or fritters.


Fresh, breaded, fried clams are to die for, but PLEASE do not overcook them. All the recipes say to fry for one to two minutes each side, but I would say no more than thirty seconds- tops! Over cooked, chewy, clams are very unappetizing… but perfectly cooked, tender clams positively melt in your mouth!


We had such a great time that we have already planned our next clam adventure and we will be purchasing our own clam gun! Truly a Northwest gem, right in our own backyard!

Fried Clams:

Dry your clams thoroughly between newspaper. Papers towels will stick and leave fuzzies (any water/liquid will “pop” and “spit” in the hot oil.)


Dip the clam in egg then coat with a crumb mixture. I used crushed, pepper crackers, chili powder, salt and pepper.

Fry in about an inch of hot oil, thirty seconds per side. Serve right away. We also had a mixed greens salad and homemade corn muffins.


Janine Blackwell

Janine Blackwell

Food has always been a main focus of my family life! At 12 years old I picked berries during the summer and at 15 I started work in the local cannery. This was my summer job all through college (my father was the production manager for Norpac Foods for 30 years, so I had an in!) Each summer my mom would can and preserve fruit and vegetables so we could have "good stuff" all year long. I attended a cooking school while I lived in England for about a year, but my life took a different turn and I did not go into food professionally. My sister owns a restaurant in Colorado and my brother works for a blueberry processing plant in Silverton, OR. Like I said- a family affair! I teach video and film at Columbia River HS (love it) but I also love to cook, can and preserve. I work to use as much home grown, locally produced and organic product as I possibly can.

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