Mister North and I took a family holiday to Barcelona with our mum a few years ago to celebrate my thirtieth birthday and despite having a wobble about my new decade, I managed to mark the day in style with copious amounts of cava and some stunning food. The discovery of the weekend were razor clams at lunch at La Boqueria. Looking like old fashioned cutthroat razors, the only danger we were in from these handsome molluscs was overeating! Steamed until tender, they are soft, juicy and utterly delicious with chorizo. I lost count of how many times we ordered them, so imagine my glee when I found a bundle of these beauties in Brixton Market this week…
Nestled on ice at the fish counter at Wing Tai on Electric Avenue, the long tubes of flesh seemed to wave at me and beg me to take them home. I ummed and awwed having been stung by the price of these lovelies in Borough Market before, but when I was told they were £8.50 a kilo, both they and I were sold. I also picked up some monster sized prawns and went home plotting a mid-week barbeque.
I split and deveined the prawns, leaving them to marinade in a tangy rub of scotch bonnets, tamarind, fish sauce, lime juice and soy sauce while I turned my attention to the clams. Because I wanted to cook them in the shells, I couldn’t strip the flesh out and prepare it in advance as some recipes suggested, so I soaked them for several hours in cold water to get rid of sand or grit. Despite a few cracked shells, they all looked lively and healthy and wiggled and giggled when I tickled their feet to see they were safe to eat. They should react to this and if they don’t, discard them as a lost cause.
A few hours later, we fired up the barbeque and placed the razor clams on carefully, allowing them to steam open slightly, before dressing them with some lemon and garlic and olive oil and cooking for about 5-6 minutes in total. You want them cooked enough to loosen them from the shells, but not so overdone they go rubbery. The prawns got about the same amount of time, roughly 3 minutes each, going perfectly pink and charred in places. It wasn’t quite warm enough to eat outside, so we left the remaining clams to it while we clamoured to taste the clams along with some asparagus, new potatoes and beetroot and rhubarb salad.
And they were stunning. Soft, juicy, garlicky and gorgeous, we stripped them from the shells, removed the black gritty sac in the middle, ignored the little mouth at the far end and revelled in every mouthful. The juices soaked in the spuds and enhanced them beautifully while the the plump prawns were just the right amount of sweet and firey together. We abandoned cutlery almost completely and tore at the shells with our fingers, making sure we didn’t miss a morsel. This was indulgence at its best, shellfish as far as the eye could see and every mouthful was a real pleasure. Sticky fingers and an unexpected camera problem limited the number of photos, but that means you have to have your own razor clam fest to see the full glory. You’ll thank me for it!