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Cleaning and Preparing Razor Clams

Razor clams are some of the best eating clams in the Pacific Northwest and perhaps the world. Like other shellfish, razor clams should be cooked and not eaten raw. In addition, razor clams must be cleaned before cooking. Cleaning is a fairly simple process and you end up with using almost the entire clam ready to cook.

The first step in cleaning is removing the shell

The easiest way to accomplish is to first rinse all sand from your clams.

After placing your clams in a colander or in the sink, pour boiling water over them long enough to cause shells to "pop" open (5-10 seconds) Do not soak in boiling water as meat will become tough.

IMMEDIATELY place clams in cold tap water and remove meat from shell.

Another way is to cut the four muscle attachments of the paired adductor muscles by running a sharp knife along the inner surface of each shell.

The next step is to remove the tip of the siphon, gills and digestive tract - the dark parts of the clam

You can either use a sharp knife or scissors.

1. After snipping the tip of the neck (siphon), open the body from the base of the foot to the tip of the siphon. Click on photo for enlargement
2. The paired gills and palps (mouth parts) are removed with two cuts. Click on photo for enlargement
3. During cleaning, you may find small "pea crabs" or flatworms inside the body of the clam. NEITHER OF THESE AFFECTS THE QUALITY OF THE RAZOR CLAM MEAT.
(See close up of pea crab)
Click on photo for enlargement
4. Squeeze the digger (foot) and make a circular cut to remove the stomach. Click on photo for enlargement
5. Note: the clear rod in the digger. It is called the "crystalline style". It is used as a digestive enzyme much like saliva and helps break down the silica-like shell of the diatoms they eat. The crystalline style should be removed. Click on photo for enlargement

6. Slit the digger so that it will lie flat. Pick out the small intestine that runs through the foot. Rinse and the clam is ready for cooking. (See Recipes)

Click on photo for enlargement Click on photo for enlargement