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How to cook a razor clam

Razor clams can be cooked several ways including baking, steaming, frying and even included in chowders. Razor clams are also known in the UK as razor fish and razor shell. They are difficult to source, but you can buy them online, or pick them up from the beaches of South Wales, Cornwall or the Channel Islands.

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  1. Clean and rinse the outer shells of the clams with cool water. Do not use any type of cleaner or brush. Simply wash away any loose particles. Inspect the clams and discard any that are already open or have a foul or overly fishy odour. Many of the clams will have a small piece of flesh sticking out of one end. This is common.

  2. To open razor clams before cooking you will need to rinse the clams in boiling water for about 10 seconds until they pop open. Immediately dip them into cold water. Clean the clams by removing them from the shell and then by cutting the neck, or siphon, off. Then remove any dark meat, which is the digestive track and gills. Make sure you properly clean all razor clams by removing and discarding all of the gut material before cooking.

  3. To steam razor clams use a covered pot that is big enough to hold the clams and other ingredients. There will not be a large amount of liquid so a shorter pan with a cover will work nicely. Place a few spoonfuls of virgin olive oil in the pan. Next add in chopped parsley and a bit of minced garlic. Heat the pan up and carefully add three times as much white wine as olive oil used. When the wine is hot, add the cleaned and prepped clams and a spoonful or two of water if desired. Be careful, the wine and water will steam and pop as they mix with the hot the oil. Cover and allow the clams to steam for about one minute. Add parsley before removing from heat.

  4. Remove the razor clams from the heat and place them on a plate. Add more wine, water and additional seasonings as desired to the pot and return the pot to the stove. Cook this over medium heat to make a stock. If you have not done so before cooking you can now cut the clams into smaller pieces. Place in a shallow bowl, garnish as desired, add a dash of lemon juice and spoon of hot stock.

  5. In order to pan-fry razor clams prepare a hot frying pan with oil. Prepare the clams as stated in the cleaned clam example. Do not steam cook before frying. Use whole, butterfly cut or quartered pieces. The butterfly cut is almost completed when you clean the clam and remove the gut material. To finish the cut you will need to continue the cut that you started when cleaning the clam meat. Continue the cut the length of the clam in order to open it so it lays flat.

  6. Dip the razor clam meat in a mixture of milk and egg then dredge the meat in a mixture of corn meal, flour, salt and pepper. Fry each piece quickly until the coating is golden brown. The meat has already been steamed so avoid over cooking. You can also use a batter mixture similar to beer-battered onion rings.

  7. Tip

    Adjust the flavours in your recipe by using some of your favourite spices. Shop-bought breading or batter mix may save you a few minutes of time. Besides steaming and frying, you can add razor clam meat to other dishes such as seafood chowder, fritters and razor clam dip.


    During certain times of the year, marine toxins produced by some species of diatoms (algae) are found in high levels in razor clams. When ingested, these toxins can cause illness which can be fatal to humans. Check your local area for safety postings and season dates. Avoid seafood that appears spoiled or that has an overly fishy or foul odour. Clams that already have opened before cooking should be discarded as should shells that do not open during cooking. Always clean your work space and cooking tools to avoid contamination.

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Things You'll Need

  • Clams
  • Frying pan or pan
  • Cover
  • Olive oil
  • Spoon
  • Butter
  • Breading Mix
  • Parsley
  • White wine
  • Lemon juice

About the Author

Kent Whitaker is an author and chef whose titles include The Tennessee, Georgia and Texas "Hometown Cookbooks," as well as titles for children. He writes for the "National Barbecue News," and hosts a cooking radio show heard on 50 stations. Whitaker went to college at Middle Tennessee State University.

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