purging clams, lets stop the madness

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by rat, Oct 26, 2012.

  1. rat

    rat

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    Got into a heated discussion with my chef about purging clams and thought I would post my thoughts and look for yours.

    Here the chef purges the clams overnight in water and cornmeal, the clams rapidly die and we have to use them quickly.

    Me, as a hobby have had saltwater reef aquariums for years and know a little about keeping marine life alive in captivity.

    I suggested to him that the FRESH water would kill the clams immediately, otherwise we would have cod in the delaware river and marlin in mountain lakes. I have seen people online adding salt to the purge water but in ratios too low to match the natural salinity of saltwater which is @ 1.021 and 1.025 on a refractometer/hygrometer. The generally accepted ratio for salt mixes for aquariums is @ 1/2 cup per gallon of water to get in that  general range though if you really want to get technical that ratio would need to be tweaked to match the natural specific gravity of where the shellfish came from. Also kitchen salt and kosher salt has been made from evaporated sea water and many of the compounds found in evaporated salt do not readily dissolve back into water (mainly the carbonates, though I dont think them neceassary to maintain life only sustained growth). That is a reason you cannot use rock salt or natural salt in water being used in a saltwater aquarium.

    Do you think having a correct saltwater solution would keep the clams alive longer? and at the same time be more effective in purging clams? I am not suggesting everyone have a saltwater aquarium in their walk in, but at least I think it would help the clams survive longer in a kitchen.

    Also, why cornmeal?? Yes while clams and bivalves are filter feeders they generally feel on much smaller particulate matter such as phytoplankton which usually are in the micron range. Has anyone ever eaten a clam with cornmeal in its gut?? I do think it is entirely possible but was just wondering. Also the cornmeal would have to be freely circulating in the water to be effective, so some sort of circulation pump comes to mind. A clam in the top of the bucket wont get any cornmeal that is settled in the bottom.

    Also again, if the clams do actually eat the cornmeal, it gives me the idea of flavoring the cornmeal. KInd of like stuffing a turkey.

    on a side note I have a clam from a raw bar buffet in my tank now which is about 4 inches across, came in as a littleneck. I find it time to time when I am doing maintenance. It came in as a littleneck two years ago.

    So,,, what do you think besides that I have too much time on my hands??
     
  2. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Having lived either on or very near the Gulf of Mexico my entire life I know very little about clams and even less when it comes to cleaning or cooking them.

    Do like to eat them, tho!

    I do know about shrimp.

    Your salt water purging makes perfect sense (when freezing a big haul of shrimps we use saltwater in the container).

    We don't need an instrument to calculate the proper water to salt ratio... my Gpa Van told me to mix enough in until when you close your eyes it tastes just like the water we pulled them from.

    As you can tell I also have way too much time on my hands...

    mimi
     
  3. berndy

    berndy

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    I was told years ago that the purging of clams was really not necessary since all the clams sold in the US are pre-purged before reaching the consumer.
     
  4. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    I got 5lbs of clams yesterday for dinner, I rinsed them in a bowl, no sand. No sand in the pot either and very clean meat.I believe that the harvester purges them before selling. I assume that the process is only rinse well and allow to sit for a day or so in a clean tank before bagging & tagging.

     
  5. fryguy

    fryguy

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    I have always soaked them in fresh water with a table spoon of baking soda for about 2 hours. The clams don't like the baking soda and purge that along with any gritty sand they may have . Then rinse and hold in the ice bin. NEVER leave in any kind of water over night = dead clams. Of course this could be somthing I Picked up on young and have just stuck with it......could just be an old wives tale.....anyone else use this method or am I somking a little to much houch...LOL 
     
  6. berndy

    berndy

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    It is my understanding that the harvesters purge the clams at the same location of harvest in the same seawater they were grown in. I wish I could tell you more about how they actually do it.

    Does anyone know ?
     
  7. rat

    rat

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    I would imagine they soak them in the same seawater they harvest them from.
     
  8. smork

    smork

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  9. crosi

    crosi

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    I think it's better if you put clams on perforated pan over hotel pan then immerse in salt water.  That way sands will fall to the bottom and clams won't eat them again.

    In Japan, many people say keep the clams in 3% salt water to purge. They say the water is too salty so they spit out the sands.

    I haven't tried this method yet but a few months ago I watched "50 celsius (122F) wash" method on a Japanese TV program. You prepare 48~52 celsius (118~125F) water then soak the clams for 2~3 minutes. The water temp cannot be lower than 43C/109F.  Clams are shocked so they open their mouth to purge. You can use the clams immediately or you leave them at room temp, they will close.  You can put them back to salt water(cannot be too cold) to keep them alive again. 

    At Tsukiji fish market, I've seen clams in salt water (not sure if it's sea water or salt water) with the aquarium pump.  At supermarkets, I've seen manilla calms were sold in the package; salt water inside, sealed completely with plastic.

    When I visited a fish purveyor in FL a while back, I asked them if it's better to keep the clams in salt water.  They never heard of it. For my knowledge, it is a common method in Japan or in France.
     
  10. piropo

    piropo

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    In Italy the small clams for Spaghetti Vongole are sold by the kilogram in tight net bags that don't allow the clams to open and loose their water. These clams are almost always with some sand inside. I have seen the men who sell the clams bouncing each clam, one after another, off a nylon cutting board, looking for the rogue dead clam who's shell will open full of sand or mud.

    Rinse any sand from the clams in a colander with fresh water. Place the clams in a shallow container overnight, allowing plenty of room for the clams to open a little. The clams should not be piled on each other. They should be just covered with salted water made by adding 35 grams of table salt for each liter of water or 130 grams per gallon of water. The clams normally live buried in the sand. They don't like sand in their shell and will purge themselves of any sand after about 8 to 12 hours.   Buon Appetito.
     
  11. chezj023

    chezj023

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    My first thought is that overnight is simply too long to purge them.

    Not that I have cooked all that many clams, but followed procedures mentioned above, wash well, proper storage, etcetera... and never had an issue.
     
  12. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    Willipa Bay clams & oysters in the live tank from my local fish market tonight.


    .
     
  13. michaelga

    michaelga

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    What was written on that guys hand?  That is what I want to know.

    "Keep your hands out?"
     
  14. chefbuba

    chefbuba

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    It's a plastic hand!
     
  15. nw beach comber

    nw beach comber

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    I grew up on Pacific NW Beaches and have eaten literally thousands of clams and oysters that I have harvested myself.

    On the issue of purging there is a few things to consider.

    1. If the manilla clams were harvested in mud flats (not sand) they just need a good scrub under cold water before you drop them in the cook pot.

    2. If the clams are harvested in a sandy area, it is nice to soak them in clean seawater, hopefully this will flush out any sand they may have inside them. I do this for a few hours. Sometimes you just get a sandy clam.

    3. I would definitely not leave them overnight, they will filter all the oxygen out of the water and drown. You can keep them longer by changing out the water. I put them in a cool place in the shade in the winter months, or in the fridge in the warm months.

    Fresh water is not their friend. I've heard of the cornmeal trick, but don't think it will work.
     
  16. rcwhipp61

    rcwhipp61

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    I prefer Manilla Clams, as a professional chef, I always purge the clam 3 time changing the water every 30 minutes then in a perforated pan with bags of ice, they last 5 to 7 days this way. I had some little neck clams to day that were very sandy, after purging the ways the were very clean (no sand)
     
  17. capecodchef

    capecodchef

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    I'm fortunate to live in an area of the world that has, in my humble opinion, some of the finest hard shell clams available anywhere. Whether it's a littleneck, cherrystone, or quahog, I've never purged a hard shell clam and rarely do I get a "sandy". That's true with those that are freshly dug by my own clam rake as well. Now steamers, or soft-shelled clams. That's a different story. The best fish mongers keep theirs in a lobster tank and they come to market very clean.
     
  18. someday

    someday

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    I agree, most clams you buy will be pretty clean. You may get the OCCASIONAL sandy clam, but in my experience it is rare. And yes, if your chefs insists on purging then overnight is WAY too long. It should take an hour or two tops. 

    Sometimes, the best answer is "Yes chef" even when you know you are right, lol.

    "Hey, let's intentionally murder all these beautiful clams by keeping them in tap water overnight." 

    "Yes chef!"
     
  19. rcwhipp61

    rcwhipp61

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    You're the lucky one, last night I had a clam dish come back that tasted like I was eating the beach, one of my cooks forget to purge to clams. 3 times changing the water every 30 minutes, then in a perforated pan with ice.
     
  20. capecodchef

    capecodchef

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    Well then, I've been lucky for 50+ years and literally 1000s of clams. At the beach, sometime we just sit in the tidal pools and reach down into the sand and pluck them out as we sit, going to town with the shucking knife. No purging there for sure.