Once you’ve got over the possible squeamishness of their curious appearance razor clams are a delight to cook and an even greater delight to eat.
Curious creatures, razor clams. You wouldn’t necessarily dive for them first thing on the fish counter, looking as they do like some ancient scroll of the deep, and oozing pustular flesh from one end.
They need to be alive when you buy them. You can check this easily by picking them up – if the pearlescent flesh retreats back inside its shell then you’re in business. If it doesn’t, then in the bin with it.
When you wash the clams, they squirt violently out of the bowl, dousing the kitchen in brine and god-knows-what-else. As I say, curious creatures. But delicious ones, and once you’ve got over the possible squeamishness at their decidedly phallic appearance, are a delight to cook and an even greater delight to eat.
Serves 4 as a starter
Razor clams with burnt cucumber and salami
A few mint leaves
Juice of half a lemon
4 tbsp olive oil
1kg razor clams, any dead or broken ones discarded
100g spicy salami, finely chopped
Herbs – amaranth and chervil, for example
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel the cucumber, reserving the skin, then halve down the middle and discard the seeds. Put the peel on a baking tray and in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until dry. Get a frying pan very hot, and add the peel and the mint. Burn thoroughly, then remove and leave to cool. Grind in a pestle and mortar. Char the cucumber in the same pan all over, cool, then cut into strips.
Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil with a little salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat the grill to high. Put the clams in a bowl in the sink under a cold running tap for 10 minutes. Remove from the bowl and put on a baking sheet under the grill for 1 minute until opened. Take out of the shell, reserving the shell for presentation. Cut the dark, gritty part out of the clam and discard. Separate the single, tubular bit and set aside. Roughly chop the other bits.
Fry the salami in a drop of oil until crisp, then add the chopped clam bits and fry for another minute. Griddle the other, whole bits of clam for a minute on each side until hot and lightly charred.
Arrange the cucumber on a plate with the clams and salami. Garnish with a few leaves, dress with the lemon dressing, and serve.
Inspired? Visit Great British Chefs for more razor clam recipes.