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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

October 29, 2014 at 8:28 AM

Chef Tom Douglas digs into advice for preparing razor clams

Douglas_04The coastal fall and winter razor clam digging season is off to a great start with folks clamoring in their boots between Mocrocks and Long Beach for these tasty shellfish.

In this week’s Seafood Recipe of the Week, Chef Tom Douglas offers some creative ways to prepare razor clams for a wonderful seafood dining experience.

This season we’ve have weekly recipes and advice that began in April and will go through October on how to cook up and dish out a wide variety of local seafood by experts like Anthony’s Restaurant; Tiffany Haugen, Outdoor Cooking expert/author; tackle shop owners; local seafood-market owners; and fishing guides and charter services. This is the final seafood recipe of the week, and we’ll start it up again next year in April. The plan is to have two more local chefs offering their special recipes so stay tuned.

Douglas is owner of Assembly Hall; Brave Horse Tavern; Cuoco; Dahlia Lounge; Dahlia Bakery; Etta’s; Home Remedy; Lola; Palace Kitchen; Rub With Love Shack; Seatown; Serious Pie Westlake; Serious Biscuit Westlake; Serious Pie Virginia; and Tanaka San.

Here is Douglas’ advice on how to prepare them:

Our mission at the restaurants is to cook whatever local products we can get our hands on and, whenever possible, get close to the producers. So, last April, it made perfect sense to send four chefs from my Seattle joints- Dezi, Brock, Adrienne, and Liam- to the Razor Clam Festival in Long Beach, Washington, to be judges of the Razor Clam Fritter Cook-Off.

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Chef Dezi of Palace Kitchen describes the festival as “super cool,” and reports that our chefs ate heaps of fried razor clams all day long from morning to night, and, after much digging, managed to dig up two razor clams and a rock between the four of them. The winner of the Clam Fritter Cook-Off, by the way, incorporated cranberries from the nearby “Cranberry Coast,” and served the fritters with a cranberry sweet chili sauce, which, in Dezi’s words, “spoke of the region.”

My own favorite way to cook and eat razor clams is to simply dredge them in a mix of seasoned flour and cornmeal, then pan fry them in butter until crisp and golden. Be careful not to overcook them so they stay tender, not tough and chewy. Crisp but tender fried razor clams hot out of the pan with a good squeeze of lemon are hard to beat. But during razor clam season, the chefs of my restaurants are always looking for creative new ways to celebrate these Washington bivalves.

Chef Brock of Dahlia Lounge sometimes features razor clams on the “Sea Bar,” an appetizer selection of fresh fish and shellfish, both raw and cooked, set in small dishes on a platter of shaved ice.

Brock juliennes his razor clams, lightly poaches them in salt water, then tosses them in a spicy Vietnamese-style salad with plenty of fresh herbs and nuoc cham. Chef Dezi of Palace Kitchen likes to braise razor clams in butter and wine until just tender, then dice and serve as a relish on top of a piece of grilled or roasted fish. The braising liquid from the clams is reduced down to make a sauce for the fish.

So fry up a pan of tender, delicious razor clams or head out to Long Beach to try your hand at digging, but whatever you do, don’t let the fall razor clam season pass you by!

Here is a rundown on how the first days of the season have fared:

Coast-wide a total of 23,100 digger trips Oct. 7-21 took home 291,000 clams for an average of 12.6 clams per person (the first 15 dug regardless of size or condition is a daily limit).

At Long Beach, the average was 13.5 clams per person; Twin Harbors it was 14.1; Mocrocks saw an average of 12.1; and Copalis had a paltry 3.9.

The next dates at Long Beach and Twin Harbors are Wednesday (Oct. 22) to Oct. 28; Mocrocks on Oct. 24-26; and Copalis on Oct. 25. Digging is open from noon to midnight each day.

Other tentative dates at Long Beach and Twin Harbors are Nov. 4-11, Nov. 20-26, Dec. 3-9, Dec. 19-23 and Dec. 31. Mocrocks on Nov. 7-9, Nov. 21-23, Dec. 5-7, Dec. 19-21 and Dec. 31. Copalis on Nov. 8, Nov. 22, Dec. 6, Dec. 20 and Dec. 31. Kalaloch Beach is closed due a low population of razor clams.

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