There are various articles on the Internet on how to de-grit clams and they will probably all work. In the US, popular methods include the use of “cornmeal” to get the sand out of clams. Clams purge the sand and grit out by ingesting the cornmeal. In Japan, the most common method is by using simple salt water. Fishermen and housewives all use this method and it’s how I de-grit clams. If you are interested in the Japanese way, here’s how we do it.
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- Large bowl that can fit a sieve (flat container is the preferred choice)
- Paper towel
- Aluminum foil
- Sieve that fits in the bowl (if you use a flat container, then a wire rack that fits in the container)
- Measuring cup
- Salt Water (You need to make 3-4% salt water:1 Tbsp salt for 2 cups of water)
- Live clams should be cooked within 48 hours of purchase. Discard any clams that remain open when tapped with fingers. Scrub the clams with stiff brush under cold water and drain well.
- Put them in a bowl and cover with damp paper towel.
- Put them in a bowl and cover with damp paper towel. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil opening a little bit as live clams need to be able to breathe to remain healthy. We cover the bowl with aluminum foil because clams prefer to be in a quiet and dark environment (at least that’s how I learned). Keep it in the fridge.
- Take out the clams from the fridge and quickly rinse the clams.
- Put the sieve (wire rack) inside the large bowl. Place the clams inside the sieve without overlapping each other. The reason why you put the sieve inside the bowl is because any sand and grit the clam purge would stay on the bottom of the bowl instead of being consumed by the clams again.
- Combine 2 cups water and 1 Tbsp. salt in the measuring cup to make salt water. Mix well and pour into the bowl (container). The water level should be right around the clam’s mouth. If there isn’t enough salt water then make more using the same ratio of water and salt.
- Cover the top with aluminum foil again and keep it in a cool dark place (or fridge) for 3 hours. This should give clams enough time to purge sand and grit.
- After 3 hours, take out the sieve and drain the dirty water. Wash the bowl and put clean water. Add the clams and set aside for 1 hour to de-salt. Without this process, clams can taste too salty from the salt water.
- After 1 hour, wash the clams carefully with a brush. The clams are now ready for cooking.
If you do not have enough preparation time, you should de-grit at least 1 hour and de-salt for 15 minutes.