If you don’t live in the PACIFIC NORTHWEST my guess is a razor clam po’ boy won’t send you into ecstacy the way it does those of us who live here. We must be like New Englanders who would walk a mile for a good lobster roll or Southern connoiseurres who prefer their po’ boys made with fried oysters. The bottom line is that this is a sublime sandwich that can be made with whatever you have on hand…halibut…salmon…shrimp…as long as it is deep fried to a crispy golden brown and slathered in a zesty sauce .
Recreational digging for razor clams is truly a family sport. All you need is a small clam shovel or a “clam gun” (the white tube seen in the photos) a container to put your clams in and most important, your clam license. Clammers are allowed to dig 15 clams per day per licensed person and the State means it. All dug clams count and small ones and any with cracked shells have to be kept. You can count on Oregon Fisheries guys to be out dressed as clammers and when they nab you it’s big trouble. They can confiscate all your equipment including your car and fine a flat fee (around $250 plus an additional amount for every clam over 15). The reason I’m telling you this is to illustrate how serious we Oregonians are about maintaining the quality of our beaches. You seldom see any litter on the beach, and if there is some left on the sand a beach walker will usually pick it up. During the fall and winter when low tides occur at night, thousands of clam diggers brave the elements to dig by lantern or flash light. Because there is a great deal of interest in digging at all times of the year, seasons are set to allow digging during daylight spring tides when there is better weather and during the fall/winter when diggers have to deal with the elements, but not as many clam diggers.
My family loves razor clams and we are among the group of crazy people who will go out in the middle of the night in winter with miner’s lamps on our heads and knee high boots on our feet to hunt these elusive bivalves. On nights like that we won’t see many clammers but if the low tide happens to be in good weather during daylight hours there could easily be thousands of people on the beach vying to dig their daily limit.
The blueprint for a good po’ boy is simple: crispy hot razor clams on a toasted roll, shredded iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced tomatoes and a generous spoonful of a good sauce like my favorite SEAFOOD REMOULADE.
As you know if you have visited my blog for any length of time my family loves the North Oregon Coast. We spent a recent Thanksgiving there and happened to hit an absolutely gorgeous weekend and a good low clam tide. Razors can reach six inches in length and the little tail that you see in the photo is their “digger.” They can feel the vibrations of somebody walking on the sand and can literally dig faster down into the sand than the person with the clam gun can go after them. It isn’t unusual to see somebody up to their shoulder in the sand trying to get enough of a grasp of the shell to pull the little bugger out. Don’t laugh…they often get away.
Little pimples in the sand tip off clammers to their presence. The clams breathe through these tiny holes and their necks are right below the surface. Sometimes you can see the neck extending a little bit, but it is usually the bubbly little hole that is the giveaway. If you spot one you have to dig fast if you have any hope of being successful.
Two or three good sized clams is a generous serving along with a tossed salad and crusty bread.
Razor clams are easy to cook, but they are tricky and can easily become tough and rubbery if they are overcooked. Cleaning them is fussy work, something my grandmother taught me when I was very young, and I don’t mind doing it at all. If we have lots of people and end up with sixty or seventy clams then it’s another story. In the old days hotels along the beach had special outdoor areas with tables and running water where clams could be cleaned, but they are long gone. I dredge the cleaned clams in flour, then beaten egg, and finally in panko bread crumbs. They must be fried in about an inch of very hot oil in a cast iron skillet, no more than 45 to 60 second on a side.
My precious family at the place we love the most doing what we love to do.