Photo by Muffy Aldrich
The Modern Guide to The Thing Before Preppy

Monday, May 16, 2022

Steamed Clams and Mussels

Photos by Salt Water New England
Mussels and clams, steamed and served with melted butter, is a favorite by the docks.  The fresher and, in New England, the more northern the source the better.

Over the years, readers have shared their favorite ways of preparing:
  • Whole belly fried clams, preferably from Woodman's of Essex. (Orange Fiji)
  • Steamed in white wine and honey at The Barnacle in Marblehead. (Patsy)
  • Mussels pomme frites in Belgium. (The Govteach)
  • Mussels dressed in garlic, white wine, and a few sprigs of thyme with a plate of warm garlic naan and a cold glass of French rose. (AVL-Veg)
  • Clams - Raw at Matunuck Oyster Bar in Jerusalem, RI. Mussels steamed in champagne. (David Hanssen)
  • The only way to do steamers right is to steam them in beer with onion. (Comment)
  • Whole bellied fried clams with a side of tartar sauce. Clam strips do not count. Steamers steamed in salt water with a side of drawn butter. Little necks eaten raw with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of tobasco. Cherry Stone clams in white wine and butter served like mussels. (Hound & Co.)


  1. In my home in Maine we never use butter with steamers. (Would you put catsup on a steak?) Dip the critters in a little broth from the steaming to remove any random grains of sand; that's all you need do to get their maximum taste..

    1. You'd have to take the butter out of my cold dead hands.

    2. Kerrygold, and a bit of fresh, just outta the oven sourdough bread, please....

  2. There's a difference of course between steamers and steamed clams. All steamed clams are not necessarily steamers, and thank goodness for that -- I find steamers to be rather disgusting. I like them fried okay. And I do like steamed littlenecks; more tender and flavorful.

  3. Love them all, from the mussels we collected on the beach to the fried clam roles our grandmother would buy us at Howard Johnsons!

  4. Gosh! We used to have these all of the time when I was a child and teenager at home in SE Pennsylvania. Clams and scallops (with lots of melted butter), shrimp, flounder, and cod among others. My mouth is watering at the memory of it.

    Kind Regards,


  5. What a wonderful way to start the day, with such superb photos! Now I know what we are having for lunch! Cheers!

  6. +1 if they'll also boil lobsters for you dockside.

  7. Bivalves near the ocean. Perfection! And agreed - the farther north you go, the better they are! --Holly in PA

  8. I was at our local supermarket the other day, and the fish counter had a special on "steamers" for $9.99 lb. That's a pretty good price down here in Virginia. Problem was, the clams were not "steamers," but rather hard shell clams, most likely white Manila clams. Doesn't inspire confidence when your fishmonger can't properly identify a bivalve.

  9. I like foraging for blue mussels at Hadley Point on Mount Desert Island--no license required. Check your tide app and keep a bucket in the car. Always check the Maine Marine Resources map before foraging:


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