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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

October 30, 2013 at 12:33 PM

Chef Tom Douglas dishes up advice on serving one of the most tasty Pacific Northwest shellfish

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Well we’ve reached our final weekly take on the Catch of the Week recipes and essays from a wide variety of local chefs, tackle shop and resort owners and fish market operators.

This week we take a look at coastal razor clams, which is heading into another banner season that should extend well into winter and clear all the way to spring. Limits have been the rule for those trekking to the four coastal beaches that are open this fall with 63,160 diggers have taken home 954,358 razor clams. A daily limit is the first 15 clams dug regardless of size or condition.

Seattle chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas is offering up his advice on how to cook and serve razor clams, one of the best tasting shellfish the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Douglas is a regular contributor of some of his tasty cooking advice and recipes for the Reel Time Fishing Northwest blog in our Catch of the Week that have been posted every Wednesday from April through October. The Recipe of the Week will debut once again next April, and the plan is to have additional cooks and restaurants offering their take on some of the best local seafood.

Douglas is owner of Lola, Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge, Dahlia Bakery, Etta’s, Serious Pie Downtown, Seatown, Brave Horse Tavern, Cuoco, Serious Biscuit and Serious Pie Westlake. Another new Douglas restaurant that opened this year is Tanaka San at the Via6 Apartment Complex in downtown Seattle.

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Here are some suggestions by Chef Tom Douglas on how to serve razor clams:

Razor clams are large, oblong clams, although not as big as geoducks.

If you can find them fresh, they are much better than frozen which can be watery and less flavorful.

Our chefs get really excited whenever they get their hands on fresh razor clams to special out on their restaurant menus.

We have tried them as fritters, chowders, and ceviches, but the most satisfying way to serve razor clams is simply dredged and crisply panfried.

My longtime friend Steven Steinbock, who has worked with me for more than thirty years, is a master at panfrying fish and seafood.

In the early days of the Dahlia when Steven was chef, he would order razor clams for the lunch menu whenever Harry or Dick Yoshimura of Mutual Fish announced they were available.

Mutual would shell them for us, and Steven would remove the stomachs and pound them very lightly. The usual method was to dip them in milk and dredge them in a mixture of seasoned flour and cornmeal (medium grind, not coarse).

Then Steven would pan fry them in a hot pan with either clarified butter or olive oil with whole butter swirled in until the razor clams were crisp and golden on both sides.  Steven was expert at that tricky balance of getting them golden and crispy but not overcooked and chewy.

For a sauce, simple is best- just lemon wedges, or a good pickle-y tartar sauce, or if you want to get fancy try something like a chipotle aioli.

If you can find a nice, airy baguette, split it open, spread with tartar sauce, and fill with fried razor clams, shredded lettuce, and pickled onions, then open a cold bottle of Washington Chardonnay or Semillon and enjoy the best damn sandwich you ever tasted.

Latest word on next coastal razor clam digs

The digs are this Friday, Nov. 1 at Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; Saturday, Nov. 2 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks; Sunday and Monday, Nov. 3-4 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; Tuesday, Nov. 5 at Long Beach and Twin Harbors; and Nov. 6-8 at Long Beach. Digging is open from noon to midnight each day.

Low tides: Nov. 1, plus-0.1 feet at 5:52 p.m.; Nov. 2, minus-0.6 at 6:36 p.m.; Nov. 3, -1.1 at 6:44 p.m.; Nov. 4, -1.3 at 6:59 p.m.; Nov. 5, -1.3 at 7:45 p.m.; Nov. 6, -1.2 at 8:33 p.m.; Nov. 7, -1.2 at 9:24 p.m.; and Nov. 8, -0.3 at 10:19 p.m.

The best digging usually occurs about one to two hours before low tide. Each digger’s clams must be kept in a separate container.

More digs are scheduled Nov. 15-16 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors, Copalis and Mocrocks; Nov. 17 at Long Beach, Twin Harbors and Mocrocks; and Nov. 18-20 at Long Beach. Final approval will be announced about a week before.

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