Clams

Another of bivalves of importance for the sector is the clam (Ruditapes decussata or Venerupis decussata), a product very appreciated, and of high price. In Spain the clam of the highest quality is the Galician clam with its light gray shell. These are consumed cooked with sauce to the seafaring or in high quality preserves in brine, and are usually served as a lid with a few drops of lemon. But there are different species, and distinguishing them is not easy. The following are the most relevant:

Carpet Shell  (Venerupis senegalensis): The color of this mollusk is normally pale gray or cream, with thin bands, with a more intense tonality and lines that are drawn and the shell in parallel to its edge. The siphons of the slug clam are united throughout their length, being precisely this characteristic that allows us to differentiate it from another class of clams.
It is the most delicate of all the clams, since small variations of temperature and salinity can cause its death and, in addition, it tolerates less time outside the water than the fine clam. Therefore extreme care should be taken, keeping it in the shade and cool temperature. Due to its distribution on the coast, it is angling from small boats or to a lesser extent with firm foot with bag.

Grooved Carpet Shell  (Tapes decussatus): The shell of the fine clamshell has radii and other concentric lines that form their characteristic squares, which is a first difference of the albino slug. Its color will be different, depending on the substrate (sand) where it is raised, varying between white and blue. Their siphons are long and separated from each other in their entire length, this being another good feature to distinguish it from the other clams. It is usually caught firmly with sticks, with spoons or bie by locating the holes that leave their siphons in the sand. The greatest quantity of fine clam comes from the Galician estuaries, where they are introducing and consolidating forms of semicultivo, obtaining very important increases of the production by the organizations of shellfishers of the coast. According to experts, it should be taken in raw with lemon, but if you want them cooked are excellent open in the pan, with noodles, in a soup, in a stew with beans or accompanied by stews.

Blonde clam (Venerupis rhomboides): Its name comes from its incarnate tonality, which gives it a different appearance to that of other clams. It has a shell covered by somewhat brighter lines, which are parallel to the outer edge, of a paler tone than its own color and resembles to be polished.
Most of the catches come from the Galician Rías Bajas, where they are obtained under control with the fishing gear called “raño”.
Because of its intense flavor, this clam is adapted for use in stews with other fish, alone, with sauces like the seafaring, in stew with spaghetti or beans etc. In its cooking it is necessary to give the point, since not to cook it of more it will be less hard but to the contrary. It is a type of clam very used in preserves.

Clam japonaise (Ruditapes philippinarum): Its most outstanding characteristic is that it has very marked ribs. The lines that cross its shell form squares that when crossed are much more marked than those of the fine clam. When it is open you can see how the siphons are united to half what differentiates it from the fine clam. As for its color, is usually dark, moving between tan and almost black gray.
This clam has a very fast growth, which motivates that its price is to lower arriving progressively in greater quantity to the market. For that reason, more and more are the places of Galicia in which this species is cultivated. An important part of this clam comes from Italy, so in some places it is sold as “Italian”.
It is a clam of pleasant flavor, that offers a relation quality / price much appreciated by the consumer. It admits the same forms of preparation that the rest of clams; With the fish, with rice, pasta, beans, in soups, stews, stew …

Cythere (Callista chione): It is a large bivalve that measures 8-10 centimeters. The shells are hard, oval and very bright. It lives buried in sand banks, being able to bequeath to live to 150 meters of depth. In the case of rare species, catches are not very abundant, being obtained with trawls when other bivalves are to be found.
It is a species appreciated in the seafood restaurants of certain European countries. It has a fleshy and attractive appearance. The hardness of their flesh can be partially compensated by a previous freezing. It is always possible to cook them, to cut them thin and to pass them by the plate. They can also be used in the same way – using water – to make rice.

Praire (Venus verrucosa): It has very thick shells, almost circular in shape and very pronounced grooves. Its color is usually brown. It lives in the sand bottoms somewhat called and is caught afloat with rake. They are an important complement to the artisanal shellfish farming in the Rías Bajas in Galicia. The few specimens are mainly destined to the canning industry.
They can be taken raw, provided they have a guarantee of purification – or open to the plate with a few drops of lemon, in rice, or in salad.

Wedge clam (Donax trunculus): Also called in Galicia Cadelucha and Navajita in the Cantabrian. This small mollusk has a soft textured shell full of ribs lighter tones than its color, usually greenish toasted. The inside of the chub is violaceous, although sometimes it is whitish or orange. It abounds in open sands of clean sand and fresh water. It is caught artisanal and firm foot with sacho or rake and is very quoted. Nowadays it is captured in many places, in Galicia (Corcubión, Bayona, Valdoviño …) but also there are small parties coming from Andalusia (Huelva) especially in large commercial areas. It is a small delicacy if you have the opportunity to taste them raw – as long as you make sure that it is properly labeled and guaranteed its correct purification – because behind its size hides a full flavor of nuances. You can also cook them like any other clam.

White clam (Spisula solida): Call in Galicia cornicha, has a shell of oval-triangular shape and white color and very soft texture. The stretch marks that it presents change of tone dark to clear as they go from the outside to the interior of the shell. It is a species of shellfish afloat. It is caught in small amount associated with the slug and blonde clam. Is something unforeseeable because it appears and disappears very quickly from the banks of shellfish. Usually it is in the frozen market, accompanying pre-cooked and prepared dishes for paella, but if it is fresh it is ideal to prepare the seaman or empanada. Another way to prepare it is stewed with potatoes and also like other clams, with spaghetti or thick noodles or with beans. It is rather hard, so do not go wrong a previous freeze.

Reloj (Dosinia exoleta): It has a circular outline, with the inside white with valves, also circular and thick. His shell is usually clear and has small zigzag bands of great visibility. It also has thick, concentric streaks. Almost all of its catches are made with rake afloat from small fishing boats. Also with low at low tide, because they abound relatively in certain areas accessible at low tide. It is a relatively frequent bivalve in the markets and with a very accessible price. They are somewhat harder than the clams, although the seaman give the size, or also are worth as a companion of a fish. They are also used in preserves. They give an excellent substance to pastas and rice.

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Montse Gonzalez