Razor Clam Festival & Chowder Cook-off at Ocean Shores … and Tasty Razor Clam Recipes

This fun festival kicks off on Friday evening, March 27th, at the Shilo Inn. Beginning at 7 pm, you can dance the night away at the “Clam Dance” to the sounds of the Johnny Ray Band and cheer as King & Queen Clam are crowned. This evening also features a pasta & salad bar—all for $20 per person. Tickets are available at the Ocean Shores/North Beach Chamber of Commerce, and various other places around the area. Call (360) 289-2451 for information.

Then on Saturday, March 28th, you can start the day with a Pancake Breakfast prepared and served by the Ocean Shores Fire Fighters—just $5 buys all you can eat! And there’s lots to entertain you throughout the day—an Artisan Marketplace, featuring more than 40 Northwest artists and crafters; a Kids Fun Zone, with arts and crafts for the whole family to enjoy; live music; a chance to sample competing clam chowders and vote for your favorite; a beer & wine bar; an auction of decorated clam shovels and clam guns; and an Amateur Chowder Cook-off Contest.

On Saturday at 2:30 PM, I’ll be the celebrity judge at the 2009 Razor Clam Festival & Chowder Cook-off where I will start sampling clam chowders from participating restaurants throughout Grays Harbor County—and render my judgment. The winner of the 2009 Chowder Cook-off will have boasting rights for the Best Chowder on the Washington Coast for an entire year!

And it’s a razor clam digging weekend, too! Check for more info on the weekend’s dig and don’t forget your clam license!

Looking for a great place to stay while you’re at the Razor Clam Festival? Check out Seabrook, just up the coast from Ocean Shores.

Razor Clam Diggin’ and Some Great New NW Razor Clam Recipes

You would think that as a total Northwest gal I would have been razor clam digging at some time! But this is one Northwest activity for which I had my “first” last spring.

Here’s the story of my last year’s dig …. Ultra-outdoors friends and foodies Scott Surdyke and Darwin Longfox and my husband John and I made the trip to Ocean Shores. It is about a 3-hour drive from Seattle. On the way we stopped at the Westport Wal-Mart to pick up our clamming essentials: a clam license, clam guns, fishing gloves (we were pretty happy we spent the $1.98 on these!), clam nets to gather our booty and a light for illuminating our early morning foray. (Be sure to also bring a hat, rain gear, warm clothes and rubber boots … I have fun red polka dot ones.)

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We headed out early and the weather was spectacular, no rain and barely breezy, which is RARE on the Washington ocean—as only the day before it was hailing! The tide was low and the beach busy with clammers making their sand piles in search of the prized razor clams. Clamming went great and it was a ton of fun. The beach was loaded with clams and we all made our limit of 15 per person.

We rinsed our clams and then put them in our ice chests to chill out till we headed home. A lot of the motels have “clam cleaning” stations but we opted to wait till we got home. Cleaning the clams is a bit tricky if you haven’t done it before—and instructions online are a bit vague. I liked the video demo that you can watch on YouTube.

When we cleaned our clams, we also saved the shells, boiled them to get any guck off and then cleaned them well. Then we soaked the shells in water with a tiny touch of bleach to get any remaining smell out. We then dried them to use for garnishing and/or as a serving vessel for sashimi that we would make out of the clam necks.

The “belly part” of the clam we kept separate from the body part. I like to take the tougher neck part of the clam and slice it in lengthwise strips; sometimes I even lightly pound this part of the clam. Though many government Web sites recommend not eating clams raw, we enjoyed the tougher neck portions sliced paper-thin on a bias and eaten sashimi-style with a little ponzu and soy. Lovely presented in the cleaned shells.

When we looked on the internet for recipes, we were shocked to find a plethora of Ritz cracker-breaded preparations and other heavy breaded variations. Though a light dip in egg and panko or cracker crumbs is a tasty classic preparation, we all wanted to try something more interesting and less “fried” with our clam bounty. So on the drive home we stopped at the Asian grocery emporium Uwajimaya and picked up some ingredient inspiration. I made two recipes with our clams and both turned out really tasty. They are also very fresh-style preparations on the lighter side. I hope you will try these new recipes the next time you have a lucky clam dig!

Pacific Rim Razor Clams with Lemongrass
I like to serve this dish with steamed jasmine rice. If you like it spicier, serve red chili paste, such as sambal olek, on the side … just be sure you don’t use too much and cover up the delicate flavor of the sweet clam.
Serves 2–4

4 large Northwest razor clams

Pacific Rim Herb Paste
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic
1 small stalk fresh lemongrass, end cut off, trimmed and finely minced
1/2 teaspoon chili paste (sambal olek)
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons canola oil
3 green onions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 small red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/2 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
1/4 cup light coconut milk (or use regular)

Garnish: 5–6 large cilantro sprigs, coarsely chopped
1 lime, quartered, or 2 tiny Key limes, halved

Clean the clams and separate the belly from the neck part of the clam. Cut the neck part into bias strips.

Make the herb paste: Combine the ginger, garlic, lemongrass, chili paste, oil and salt together in a small bowl. If you have a food processor, then give it a quick pulse to combine. Toss with the clams.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high/high heat. Cook the belly part of the clam for 1 minute, turning as needed. Then add the remaining clam strips, green onions and bell pepper and sauté for about 1 minute more, moving ingredients around the pan as they cook. Add fish sauce and coconut milk and cook about 1/2 – 1 minute until heated through. Sprinkle with cilantro, and serve with limes for squeezing. Serve immediately. © 2009 Kathy Casey Food Studios—www.kathycasey.com

Razor Clams with Ginger, Black Beans, and Asparagus
Serves 4

4 razor clams
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 large bunch of asparagus, woody ends cut off and spears sliced on the bias (about 2 cups prepped)
1 cup thickly sliced sweet white onion
1 red jalapeño, thinly sliced (seeds removed)
1–2 tablespoons Asian fermented black beans, rinsed well and finely minced
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon cornstarch

Clean the clams and then separate the belly from the neck part of the clam. Cut the neck part into bias strips.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan over high heat. Add the asparagus, onion and jalapeño to the pan and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the belly part of the clam and cook for about 20 seconds then add the remaining clam strips, black beans, ginger, and garlic and sauté for about 1 minute or until clams are lightly cooked. Meanwhile, mix the lemon juice, soy and cornstarch together in a tiny bowl and then add to pan and quickly stir to thicken the dish up. Serve immediately. © 2009 Kathy Casey Food Studios— www.kathycasey.com

Posted by Kathy on March 26th, 2009  |  Comments Off on Razor Clam Festival & Chowder Cook-off at Ocean Shores … and Tasty Razor Clam Recipes |  Posted in Dishing with Kathy Casey Blog, Foodie News, KOMO Radio, Lifestyle, Recent Posts, Recipes, seafood, Tasty Travels

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