Razor Clam Po’ Boys

Razor Clam Po' Boy

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 .

clammers on beach 2

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.

Razor Clam Po' Boy

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.

Razor Clam Po' Boy

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.  

Razor Clams

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.


  1. says

    Ours are much smaller here, not prolific either. We have soft shelled clams as well as the hard shell, and I love digging for them!
    Looks like a fun day with your kids!
    In the teens today, so no one is clamming. We have strict rules too, but the baby clams can’t be taken, and if you do, you get fined. If they fall rough tines of the rake, you can’t take it, too small.
    Loved seeing your adventure and the sandwiches look great!
    Kathleen recently posted..SNOW~WINTER Table Challenge~ Let’s DishMy Profile

    • says

      You wouldn’t believe how many clams are right under the sand in a good year. Sometimes we can dig our limit in a very short time in maybe a 10 foot circle. Other times we can’t find one if our life depends on it.
      Cathy recently posted..Razor Clam Po’ BoysMy Profile

  2. says

    Oh, does this make my mouth water. I’m crazy, I mean crazy, about clam po’boys. Those clams are huge so they must be especially tasty. I’ve dug mussels but never clams. There’s nothing like getting your own haul.
    Linda recently posted..Breakfast With FriendsMy Profile

  3. says

    That po’ boy looks like heaven on a plate. My favorite meal in the world are whole bellied fried clams. I have never eaten a razor-back, but if I ever have a chance I will certainly jump on it. Do you use them for chowder, too?
    Marigene recently posted..Black Ice!My Profile

    • says

      Hi Marigene –
      Hmmmm, I don’t know what a whole bellied clam is. Isn’t it interesting how species of shellfish live in specific areas? We have no lobster here at all. I don’t use razor clams for chowder unless we dig them ourselves and we happen to have lots of them. In a fish market they are $20 a pound for those already cleaned. Seafood is expensive here.
      Cathy recently posted..Razor Clam Po’ BoysMy Profile

  4. says

    Cathy, I just love this post. I have never seen Razor Clams, and wow, are they big! I love, love, LOVE scallops and fried clams (oysters….no). The look perfectly golden and crispy. Lawdy, I’d love to sink my teeth into a bite of this perfect sandwich. What a fun family thing to do.

    • says

      I know you would love this sandwich, Debby. What kinds of clams are available in your area? The razors are all we have here in Oregon. I seldom order them in restaurants because non-native Oregonians don’t cook them properly. The chef often tries to fancy them up and ends up ruining them.

  5. says

    Boy, does THAT look good!!! I’ve had lobster rolls in Cape Cod & alligator tail in FL & oyster roasts in So. Caroline, but never a clam po’boy! I do linguine with clam sauce & lots of garlic though. LOL

    Digging for them looks like a real fun family outting. Once while in Cape Cod, we stepped on a HUGE bed of mussels. We ate mussels at every meal…no limit on how many you can harvest. YUMMO!

    Great family photo…good times together to remember.
    Rettabug recently posted..Making Satin Pageant SashesMy Profile

  6. Kris says

    Oh Cathy, I do believe that this is my favorite post of yours, ever! I had no idea that these clams were so big!!!! I have never been clamming, but oh how I would love to go. I come from a family that loves to fish. I have done that all my life. I have even been gigging for frogs in Oklahoma.
    When Greg and I visited New Orleans, a foodie’s paradise, we fell in love with Po’ Boys!!! And many other tasty things too!!!
    I so enjoyed hearing about the history of these, and your Oregon Beaches. What a great family activity to do. And now, my mouth is watering something fierce!!
    xo Kris

  7. says

    So jealous! Wish I could have gone clamming & I really wish I could have had that sandwich! YUMMY!

    Sandy did tell you that you won’t be at the market anymore. I would love to get together for coffee soon when my back gets back to normal.
    Pam recently posted..Roasted Vegetable LasagnaMy Profile

  8. mary jane s. says

    I live in Washington state, adore clams and Geoducks, oh my, we are going up to seattle to see our only child she lives in NYC, we will go to a place on the harbor the police and rescue like to frequent I will be getting some razor clams, might have them in a poor boy, po boy, my hubbs adores them, our daughter loves them just like you like them, I grew up on the washington coast for vacations and know how to skin, filet and fix any fish from the sea..clams my grandmother loved and oysters, we had them every which way you could imagine, my grand parents long gone to heaven, it was just another day on the washington coast for a week, we lived inland, but went every summer and ate black berries too. My grandparents enjoyed the weather it was actually hot then and the fish and goods from the sea…I get all teary eyed reading about others who know what to do with razor clams, etc..I will be enjoying our time spent with our child and we always go for the fish from the sea in Seattle, never better! Happy New Year to YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. says

    Interesting! That’s quite an event, I’ve never heard of razor clams! And the sandwich looks fantastic! They’re into ice fishing here, definitely no clams.

  10. says

    Cathy I love razor clams, although I never had a sandwich filled with them, I remember ordering them from Mo’s and just eating them fried! Yumm, don’t get me started. I miss the Oregon Coast, the cliffs, the lighthouses and those razor clams!!

  11. says

    Oh my, Cathy, now how can you even imagine that these babies wouldn’t send us into ecstasy if we don’t live in your beautiful corner of the world? But then I live in a similar area and am nuts for anything like a razor clam (I see them here smaller than yours, though). The Po Boys look amazing!
    Jamie recently posted..LULU ROUGET & THE BIRTHDAY LUNCHMy Profile


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