purple varnish clams, part deux


After our clamming adventure the other day, I set out preparing the haul.  I was unprepared for the deep purple insides. These little ladies are stunners. They also taste quite good. In the batch of 72, we had only three that were duds. After soaking them in salt water overnight, I rinsed them and refrigerated them today. They could have used more careful soaking, as they were still sandy. The guide suggested leaving them in a mesh bag in the salt water soak, and flipping the bag every couple of hours. I think I’ll try that next time.

clams soaking

To cook the purple varnish clams, I simply steamed them in about 1/2 cup of local Riesling, a couple of teaspoons of preserved lemon juice (lemon juice would do), a couple healthy shakes of dried thyme, a few garlic cloves and pepper. I removed the clams as they popped open in their bathtub, and we ate the whole bowl for dinner. I accompanied the clams with steamed broccoli, a tossed green salad with garbanzos, local beets, and feta, plus an appetizer of Moroccan carrot purée and pita bread. The clams are absolutely delicious!

8 thoughts on “purple varnish clams, part deux

  1. hhstore 25 February 2010 / 9:10 am

    Hmmmm… you might be right that my assessment of varnish clams was too harsh…. it’ll be interesting to see if anybody comes to their defense! And maybe they’re more popular in Oregon than in Washington?


  2. K Raudenbush 19 July 2010 / 6:39 pm

    Just finished my first ever Varnish clams. They were delicous! Mild, meaty and the shells are purple inside and so beautiful. Fixed them by stirring basil, oregano, garlic and onion in a little olive oil. Then added the clams and drank the white wine while stirring occasionally and waiting for the clams to open. WOW! So good.


  3. Mike 24 August 2011 / 11:38 pm

    Oregon coast.
    I found they unexpectedly today while at the local beach with my grand children. The clams were only about 8 inches deep, so we dug them with our hands. I too used a little wine and garlic salt. I really was not that impressed, mushy and mealy. I prefer the soft shelled mud clams. But I will give them another go.


  4. John S 20 July 2012 / 1:12 pm

    We just cooked up a batch of them. The kids had fun digging them out while I was windsurfing, so we figured we’d better eat them. We steamed them and tried them with some of the seasonings (see above) . The flavor didn’t come through to well, so I made a simple sauce of olive oil and soy sauce. We found that extra rinsing to get out the sand was very valuable. I would say that they’re ok, not my favorite clam, but one of the prettiest clams.
    John S
    PDX OR


  5. susan 2 July 2015 / 4:58 pm

    My son and I caught 210 over 3 days. We soaked them in ocean water plus about 3 tablespoons of flour for the ride home. They eat the flour and spit out sand. This worked for 99% of the clams. Still got a bit of sand. Wash it down with wine and who cares, right? I cooked spaghetti in one pot and clams and butter in a saute pan covered with foil. I like them cooked so I notice when all the shells pop open and then cook maybe 8 minutes more. I like them hot and cooked thru. Delicious with butter. Yum. Still have a lot left so might freeze some. I still have clams from when I went to clam class one week ago. Just keep feeding them in the ocean water. Clams and sour cream work well with crackers…clams and scrambled eggs…clams and linguini perfect..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s