Traditions are good especially when the traditions are connected to food. Every year we head down to the beach in Avalon, New Jersey and it is our first night tradition to prepare steamed clams, fresh Jersey corn and Caprese Salad with Jersey Beefsteak tomatoes, local basil and fresh mozzarella.
My wife Meg and I were surprised how young the kids were when they started enjoying steamers. I know there was no way I was eating steamers when I was 6 years old but both my girls can eat their body weight in these succulent little clams. The first few years we would buy a bag of 25 but that quickly grew to a bag of 50 in no time.
Now it takes 100 steamers to satisfy everyone's appetite and that's with a couple pieces of corn and a plateful of tomatoes. I'm not sure if it's the steamers the kids love or the melted butter you dip them into.
It's my belief that clams, as well as lobster and those giant crab legs, are really just conduits for butter. Of course our fresh local steamers have a sweet flavor all their own with a unique texture but it's the butter that makes them special. I need to take a photo of a steamer on a fork coming out of a container of melted butter with a little dripping off the clam.
Jersey Steamers At the Beach
There's not a lot needed to prepare steamers. A big pot with cover and a steamer basket to keep the steamers off the bottom but if you don't have one, don't fret, you can still steam the clams without one.
There are lots of great recipes on the Internet for making fancier steamers. Most of these recipes flavor the broth with onions, garlic, parsley, wine or all of the above and then use the broth to serve with the clams or to dunk in. The way we serve them cannot be any more basic although I would like to try adding some other ingredients some time.
Note: I have read on other sites (but have not been able to find it on the FDA site) that the FDA recommends you soak your clams for several hours in seawater with one cup of cornmeal added. If you don't happen to have seawater around, substitute 1/3 cup of coarse kosher salt added to one gallon of water.
I must admit have never taken this step but it probably is a good idea if you are concerned about safety.