Cape Cod Revisited and Steamers

As my 2 month visit to Cape Cod comes to an end, I can’t help feeling sorry that it is over. I have spent most of my summers here as a child and even had lived here on and off over the years. But coming back just to visit has made me see the Cape not at as part-time resident but with new eyes as a visitor. I will always love it here and consider it as a place I call home.

Since becoming interested in photography, I’ve seen the Cape through the eyes of a camera and have seen sights I took for granted and never really saw although they had always been there. I would like to share with you some of the wonderful sites of the Cape from Falmouth to Providence Town and one of its specialties.

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I don’t know of anywhere else in the world where you can find steamers. Steamers are a soft shell clam particular to New England. They grow in mucky sand and we used a plunger, pumping it against the sand to bring them to the surface. Because of this it is very important to make sure that they are thoroughly cleaned or you will be eating sand along with the clams.

When buying steamers or any clam, be sure that they are closed. If not, do not accept them, usually the fishmonger will remove them. If you plan to keep them for a day, soak paper towels with water and cover the clams with the towels storing them in the refrigerator.

Steam Clams cooked in beer

5 lbs New England steamers
1 bottle beer
1 bay leaf
1 stick sweet butter
Sea salt to taste

Steam clams

Cleaning them requires that you put them into cold water along with some cornmeal and change it several times. As the clams circulate the water into the shell, the cornmeal helps to remove the sand.

Cleaning Steam Clams

When steaming the clams use one bottle of beer and about a cup of water in a deep pot. For 2 servings as a main course I buy about 5 lbs. of clams. Cover the pot and cook on medium heat until the clams completely open. Any clams that remain closed discard.

Clams steaming in pan

Remove the clams from the beer and put them into a dish. The remaining liquid pour into cups for each person. This liquid is used to dunk the clams after removing them from the shell again cleaning off any remaining sand. Give each person a cup of melted butter, which is used to dunk the clams before eating.

Cleaning steam clams

There is a black skin on the neck of the clam that must be removed before eating them. The skin is easily removed by using your thumb to scrap it off the neck.

Removing the skin, steam clams

We once saw a woman eating the clams with this skin on and she was finding the clams very difficult to eat or enjoy. I believe restaurants should inform their guests who might not be familiar with eating steamers.

Steamers are the same clam used to make fried clams.

Cooks fried clams


~ by Patricia Turo on January 3, 2011.

One Response to “Cape Cod Revisited and Steamers”

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