Summer time in New England is all about seafood. Whether it’s lobster, clams or mussels, steamed, boiled or fried, we love it all!
Although we can get shellfish all year long in our local supermarkets, we tend to think of mussels and clams as more of a summer food. The question asked most often is about the difference between mussels and clams.
Both mussels and steamers have hard shells. Although they may seem similar and their cooking preparation can be the same, their taste and texture is different. Mussels texture is chewy, while clams have a more delicate but still a chewy texture.
Describing the taste is a bit more difficult. My best attempt at describing the difference is that a clam is slightly salty as well as slightly sweet, and a little bit fishy. Mussels taste less fishy and have a texture more like a mushroom.
Even though all shellfish are quite different in appearance and taste, they can all be prepared pretty much the same way.
Fresh clams can be eaten raw or they can be baked, grilled or steamed. You can make them into sauce for pasta or into clam chowder. You can dip them in batter and fry them. They will taste different in each preparation, depending on what you add.
I prefer clams and mussels steamed in a garlic broth and served with melted butter. If you have a packet of Healthy Solutions Shrimp Scampi blend around, mix that into the water before adding the shellfish and steaming. It will add a wonderful garlic taste to the broth that is great for dipping with a nice crusty bread.
You should only eat the steamers that opened and discard any that stayed closed since they were dead before cooking. If you have yourself a big bucket of steamers, pull each one from its shell by its little foot, swish it through some clam broth, then dip it in melted butter. What could be better?
Important Steamer Tidbits
- They must be alive when bought in the shell. If shells are open a little, they should close quickly when tapped lightly.
- Although they’re quite different in appearance and taste, clams and mussels can be prepared the same way by cooking them until the shells open, or shucking them and cooking as you would other fish.
- Since steamers are often twice the size of a mussel, if you use a recipe calling for clams, you should consider doubling the amount of mussels in the recipe.
- Although they have some cholesterol, clams and mussels are some of
your best options for low-cholesterol shellfish.
- Both clams and mussels are high in iron and vitamin B-12.
Why not make this summer the summer to try them both!