The proper name for one of the most popular clams is the Mercenaria Mercenaria. Five clams fall under the proper name, including the countneck, littleneck, topneck, cherrystone, and quahog ranging from small to large in order. The littleneck is found. The little neck is home to the inland coastal waters of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. Here is what you need to know about little neck clams. 

What is Little Neck Clams

Littlenecks are bivalves that rest at or below the seafloor. The clam measures between one and two inches and plays a critical role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem. 

Bivalves serve the purpose of filtering water. Littlenecks consume plankton containing nitrogen. The consumption of plankton reduces algae levels, thus making the water clear and more capable of sustaining life due to sunlight reaching deeper levels. 

In addition to controlling algae, clams filter carbon emitted into the atmosphere and fall into ocean water. The clam stores and deposits carbon, which provides food for other marine life. 

Are Little Neck Clams Good

Despite the small size of the clam, the meat contained within the shell is delicious. The flavor is described as buttery and sweet when it comes to taste. 

When consuming the clam raw, the texture is chewy. The meat is pulled directly from the live shell and dipped in a sauce. One of the most common sauce pairings is a mignonnette. A mignonnette sauce combines salt, pepper, shallots, vinegar, and wine. 

When cooked, the clam takes on an entirely different texture. Cooked clams, particularly littleneck clams, are incredibly tender and plump. In fact, the little neck is noted as being the most delicate of all clams when cooked. 

Do You Need To Soak Little Neck Clams

Yes, littlenecks should be scrubbed and soaked before consuming raw or cooked. Here are the steps for cleaning clams before preparing to eat

Scrubbing Clams

Gather a soft brush; we recommend a new toothbrush and strainer pot. Place the colander in the sink and dump the clams into the strainer. 

Once the clams are under the cold running water in the strainer, hold a clam in one hand with the brush in the other. Scrub all sides of the shells to remove grit, sand, and any other growth form. Repeat the process until all the clams have been cleaned. 

Soaking Clams

After the clams have been cleaned, prepare a mixing bowl that combines salt with cold water. 

Add two tablespoons of salt per four cups of cold water. Remember, the quantity of the mixture may require doubling, tripling, or more depending on the number of clams requiring soaking. 

Once the mixture is prepared, remove the scrubbed clams from the colander and place them in the salt and water mixture. Allow the clams to soak between thirty minutes and up to two hours. 

The purpose of soaking is to allow the clam to purge sand accumulated within the shell. Cleaned clams eliminate crunching on particles when enjoying the sweet and tender taste. 

How Do You Eat Little Neck Clams

The two most common methods of preparing littlenecks are steaming or eating raw from the shell. Remember to scrub and soak the clams before eating live or steamed clams. Check out the steps below of each technique. 

Raw Little Neck Clams

Once the clams are cleaned, the preparation process can begin. Obtain a clam knife when opening and removing the meat from the shell.

Take into consideration that opening clamshells require force; therefore, use extreme caution when handling the knife. Place the knife between the upper and lower shell while sliding from one side of the clam to the other. Pop the shell free after the cut is complete. Discard the side which does not contain the meat. 

With the open shell in your hand,  cut the muscles that connect the meat to the shell. The cut allows the meaty section to fall free. 

Prepare a bed of ice on a serving plater and place the half-shells containing the meat above the ice. Pair with sliced lemons and a dipping sauce. The meal is ready to be served. 

Steamed Little Neck Clams

Steaming clams is a simple process and produces a tender, juicy treat. When steaming clams, utilize a steamer pot.

Fill the bottom two inches with a beer and water mixture. Allow the mixture to boil with the steamer basket seated within. Place the clams in the basket, cover, and cook until the clams have opened. Discard any clams which fail to open. 

Place the steamed clams on a serving dish and pair them with a cocktail sauce or melted butter.

Remember, when serving clams, the proper utensil is a shellfish fork. Lastly, purchase one pound of clams per person. 

Now You know About The Little Neck Clam 

Clam farmers work hard by raking clams and delivering fresh to restaurants, seafood markets, and grocery stores across the country. When eaten live or steamed, the delicate and sweet meat is a true treat. Purchase a minimum of a pound per person to avoid running short. Lastly, remember clams are tasty and essential to our ecosystem.