How to open smooth clams with the least effort

| September 1, 2015 | 10 Replies

You don’t need fancy techniques or tools, only appropriate preparation and good guidelines to open a smooth clam. Watch our short, yet interesting film and read our instructions, then eating a smooth clam will be a true satisfaction since it will be easier to open it with the least effort by yourself.


Smooth clams have two shells that all of a sudden sealed together. Their strong mussels keep shield their sensitive meat inside the shells (their home) and protect them from other sea predators.
It is highly important to store clams and other relative shellfish properly. The starting point is the place you buy them. Ask to pack them properly for you. Many seafood shops have special styrofoam coolers to place them inside, but some don’t and put them in plain plastic carry bags. Plastic is not the best environment for the clams, especially when wrapped on top.

how-to-open-smooth-clams-with-the-least-effortSmooth clams are living organisms, therefore by blocking them to come into contact with fresh air, to breath…, they suffocate and eventually die. This is the last thing you want, because eating a dead clam puts you in high risk of food poisoning! Be carefull, DO NOT BUY or EAT dead shellfish! When you get home with smooth clams, eat them right away or store them properly.

How to store clams/smooth clams:

Place them in a dark, but cold environment: Transfer them to a bowl and place a dump towel on top (cover loosely) or layer a small bag full of ice over the dump cloth, however do not bring them directly into contact with ice, neither submerge them in water! This has to be done because the refrigerator is a dry environment and the smooth clams will dry out! The key here is to keep them cool.

What to do before cooking them: MAKE SURE ALL the smooth clams are still fresh and alive. I would encourage you to just let the clams you think are dead aside, or throw them away. Next, clean the shells under cool running water or you better use seawater. Usually cultivated smooth clams do not need any other manipulation like the soaking process (remove sand and grit). Finally, they’re ready to be opened.

How to open smooth clams with the least effort: Read the instructions below or watch the following video.

When the smooth clams are open, you should eat them right away. Once open, squeeze a few lemon drops (lemon juice) on top. The clam’s meat should be moving.
Farmed smooth clams are cleaner than wild clams. They won’t have that much sand inside them, but their gills.


  1. Clean the outside of the mussels by washing them thoroughly in cold running water.
  2. Grab and hold firmly the smooth clam using your hand. Using the other hand insert the knife’s blade horizontally and in between the two shells (top and bottom shell).
  3. Push firmly towards your body. but simultaneously work the knife around in order to cut through the hinge muscle and separate the two shells.
  4. Clean the smooth clam’s meat from any existing sand. Remove the gills (brownish spots) so only the white and orange muscle* are left.
  5. Finally you have to pull the meat out of the curved lower shell with a knife or a fork.

Preferably use them the same day and make the trio shellfish platter recipe.


*Orange muscle = orange roe (corail).


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Category: Base recipes

Comments (10)

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  1. Marianthi says:

    Hey K.!! I am Marianthi & I have nominated you for The Liebster Award!! Your blog is really really amazing & I love it!! Keep up the amazing work!!

  2. Now I can eat some clams, love this helpful process, I always struggle and fight the clams lol

  3. Clams are something I really struggle with, so thank you so much for these tips!

  4. Great instructions on how to open those clams…I don’t think I would be brave enough to eat them without first cooking them. One day maybe:)

  5. Kristen says:

    This is such good advice! thank-you!

  6. I love clams but they are few and far between in Mississippi, lol! 🙂 I grew up on the West Coast of Scotland, there were plenty of shellfish there but mussels were more common than clams I think.

  7. What a great tutorial on clams – just learned something new today.

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