Grilled Razor Clams with Garlic and Parsley

couteauxpI love razor clams for their delicate taste, still recognisable in the presence of strong seasoning, and, most of all, for their texture: soft, but slightly al dente. For years, imagining they were tricky to prepare and/or clean, I was too scared to buy them and ruin the whole big bunch (they are sold in bunches here). Last weekend I finally dared cooking them for the first time and… they turned out to be the best razor clams of my life! I still cannot believe such a simple process yields such outstanding results. You can easily serve them as a starter, as a light main course with a salad or simply have them as a gourmet snack (which begs for a glass of chilled rosé!).

For this first experience with razor clams I didn’t use any particular recipe. I simply chose the most popular French way to serve this shellfish, i.e. grilled with a mixture of parsley, garlic and butter. Some recipes also add some breadcrumbs for an additional crunch, but I chose to skip them this time. There is also a choice between seasoning the clams before the grilling process and after. I preferred to add parsley butter before. As much as I didn’t search a precise recipe, I did look well for best ways to clean the clams. Luckily salt water soaking was cited everywhere as the best way to get rid of sand (the laziest seafood cleaning method I can imagine).

TIPS: You can use only olive oil in the parsley mixture and skip the butter.

Preparation: about 30 minutes + 1 hour soaking

Ingredients (serves two as a main course or four as a starter):

500 – 600 g razor clams

several tablespoons salt

extra virgin olive oil

(freshly ground pepper)

Parsley and garlic butter:

2 tablespoons softened butter

about two handfuls of roughly chopped parsley leaves

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

Place the razor clams into a big bowl filled with cold salted water (count at least two tablespoons per litre) and leave them for one hour. This way they will get rid of their sand.

In the meantime prepare the parsley butter, mixing the garlic, the butter, the salt and the parsley leaves in a food processor.

Wash the razor clams in cold water and rinse well.

Place them in an empty pan at medium heat and warm until all of them open up (you can put a lid to accelerate the process, but usually it takes about 3 minutes).

Do this in several batches, so that you don’t overcrowd the pan. Drain on paper towels. (Don’t worry if some of them fall completely out of their shells, you will put them back into their homes afterwards).

Remove the upper shell’s part (it’s not necessary, but this part is completely useless and takes space on a baking tray). Place the open razor clams in a baking dish/tray on their shell’s lower part and brush with garlicky butter.

Heat the oven grill/broiler and grill them until the garlic bits start becoming golden (this should take about ten minutes). Make sure the garlic doesn’t brown too much; it will become bitter.

You can also grill them in a normal grill and spread the garlic butter juste before serving.

Sprinkle them with olive oil while they are still hot and serve them simply with good quality bread or baguette (you can also season them with ground pepper).

14 Replies to “Grilled Razor Clams with Garlic and Parsley”

    1. Thank you, Karen. I think they are often used as bait in the US (I’ve read on some fishing forums), so maybe they aren’t appreciated as much as in Europe.

  1. I’m not familiar with razor clams Sissi (how have I missed them all of these years…) I asked my husband too and he was also unaware. So do they actually taste different from standard clams… it sounds like they might. I love when a home experiment works out better than we could have ever imagined! Perhaps this delight will now be a staple for you. I have to confess that my heart felt a pang with your familiar seasonings… very French indeed and the ones we love most (I will never forget the first time we enjoyed seafood – years ago – in the US; we asked for garlic butter and the kind restaurateurs were truly baffled; it just wasn’t part of the offering. We thought it was a universal thing :d).

    1. Thank you so much, Kelly. Razor clams are more delicate than the more popular round clams. They have a texture similar to mussels, but the taste is much much more delicate (I get hungry writing this!). You should try cooking them if you see them at the fishmonger’s. They are sometimes difficult to spot (in their greyish small “bunches”). Garlic butter (+parsley!) should be more popular, I agree!

  2. LIke you, Sissi, I have seen these beautiful creatures at the fish monger but have always hesitated to purchase them, thinking the preparation must be very difficult. Did the hour do the trick in purging the sand from the clams? I agree with Kelly, the garlic, butter and parsley are standards and you cannot go wrong with this combo on any seafood. Although I would disagree that olive oil is a good substitution, the flavour of the butter is essential in my opinion (mainly because I love it). I’m definitely going to give it a go, thank you for the encouragement and inspiration.

    1. Hi, Eva! I’m glad I’m not the only one scared of cooking new animals! Yes, there was no sand afterwards, so this method does work (but I chose to do it for one hour instead of 15 minutes suggested by other sources). No scrubbing, etc.. (Though maybe it depends on the clams…. some might have more sand… but since in this method they are precooked before being grilled, I think they can be rinsed after the precooking session once more if you still see sand).
      Well, in Italy they serve parsley with olive oil and garlic and it’s also delicious, so if someone really cannot or doesn’t want to eat butter, I thought it totally acceptable, though personally I’d never skip good butter! Thank you so much for the compliments. I hope you will try them and fall in love as much as I did!

  3. Hi Sissi! 🙂
    I have never been too much into clams. We would eat it maybe once a year when we would visit relatives in France. That’s because Austria doesn’t use these seafood ingredients that much. I find your clams by the way very tempting right now. Love the salt water cleaning tip, I remember my uncle using the same easy trick. Thanks for sharing your recipe!

    1. Thank you so much, Helene. I grew up in Poland where seafood is not that popular either (maybe apart from shrimps…) but I have always been a fan! I discovered these razor clams only when I moved to Switzerland and am so glad I can buy them here too.

  4. These look and sound SO GOOD! I’ve never had razor clams before so it’s unknown how they compare to the clams we get here in the states. However, I must say that I love all shell fish so I can’t imagine not loving these. And your simple flavoring along with grilling them sounds wonderful! I had grilled oysters on the half shell for the first time a couple of weeks ago and they were fabulous. I’m sure these are as well. Hope you’re doing well Sissi and thanks for another great recipe!

    1. Thank you so much, MJ. They are a bit chewier than scallops but not as tough as big clams for example. A friend told me they have a consistency similar to mussels and I think she’s right (though the taste is much more delicate!). I hope you will find them one day at a fishmonger’s…
      It’s funny I also had warm oysters for the first time in my life recently (I eat oysters very often but always raw!) and found them delicious. What a coincidence!

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