Clams · Fishing · My Family · Seafood

Clambake – An All-Day Affair

Img_7403

A couple of Saturdays ago, Bill and I took the kids and some clam rakes and metal baskets and gloves and the kids' plastic gardening tools and my camera down to Galilee to dig clams.  Bill had bought about four pounds of soft shell clams, or steamers, earlier, but in order to do the clambake we needed rockweed (a type of seaweed) and since we had to get that, we might as well dig for more steamers while we were there.

This is where we went to dig:

Img_7239

The area is referred to as "the mud flats" because the sand is actually a mixture of mud and sand.  We got there as the tide was going out – perfect for our purposes.  We could work our way farther out as the tide went out, and our chances of finding fresh areas where no one had dug yet, and the clams would be closer to the surface.  You can see plenty of people already out there digging.

Img_7240

Here we go….

Img_7242

Julia's legs are kind of short, so she started to lag behind…

Img_7249_2

Here we are at the first spot.  In order to decide where to dig, we stomp around on the sand and watch for water to squirt out through tiny holes in the sand.  This tiny little fountain is an indication that there's a clam hiding down under there. 

Bill's digging with a clam rake, but you can also dig with your hands, or whatever else works.  I use my hands – I don't have as much finesse with the rake as Bill does, and I tend to jab the tines through the delicate clam shells.  I didn't dig on this day – I was busy playing Pioneer Woman of the Mud Flats of Galilee and taking a zillion pictures so I could chronicle the adventure.  (I must credit Pioneer Woman with unknowingly reminding me that I have been taking pictures since I was very young and I have a great camera so WHY aren't I doing more of it???  Thank you, Ree, for the slap upside the head!)

Anyway, while Bill stomped and raked and moved along and stomped and raked and so on, the kids were on a mission to find the rockweed needed for the actual clambake that we would put together later.

Img_7280

This is rockweed.  You can also see a little crab scuttling away in the upper middle portion of the image.  This type of seaweed attaches itself to rocks (hence the name) but comes off easily.  It was primarily Alex's job to locate the rockweed and bring it back to the baskets.

Img_7288_2

He gathered nearly all of the rockweed himself.  Julia helped some, but it didn't hold her interest for very long.

Img_7336

She just wanted to play.

Meanwhile…

Img_7262

Bill kept digging….

Img_7264

Img_7265

Alex's other job was to rinse off the clams and place them in the baskets with the rockweed.

I don't even know how long we were there, but it got to be a bit too long for Julia.  She had to go potty at one point and since there were no bathrooms out there, I kind of helped her go off to the side near the deeper water.  She ended up sitting in the sand and was rather uncomfortable from that point on.

At one point, after whining about wanting to go home, and Bill saying "just one more hole" and me trying to convince Julia that LOOK!  What's Daddy going to FIND?! Isn't this EXCITING??!!, Julia had finally had enough of clams, sun, seaweed, and sand in her shorts.  She stood as tall as she could, her clenched fists at her sides, and shrieked, through clenched teeth, in a horrifying voice I have never heard before, "I WANT TO GO HOOOOMMMMME!"  She actually shook with anger.  Really.

So, finally, we did.

Img_7353

And once home, the preparations began…

After we got back in the truck, we stopped at one of the seafood markets nearby and got 4 lobsters.

Img_7368

First thing we do is heat up the charcoal in the little chimney.  Be careful.  Fire is hot.

Img_7371 

Once the coals are good and hot (see above), some of them go into the bottom of the grill…

Img_7374

then you put the beach rocks on top, and then put more hot coals on top…

Img_7381

And then you put some hunks of wood on top of that and let everything burn.

Img_7382 2

While that's going on, you take a two foot long piece of chimney pipe, 8 inches in diameter.  Interlock the edges so they click into place.  (Sometimes the wife needs to lend some assistance with this part, heh heh heh.)

Img_7384

Once it's pretty much all burnt down to ashes, your rocks will be hotter than hell and ready to go to work.

Img_7387   

Place the chimney pipe on the rack at the bottom of the grill and place the VERY HOT beach rocks inside.

Img_7388

Be careful – the rocks are really very VERY hot.

Img_7391

See them down there?  Okay…

Img_7398

Now dump in some of the rockweed…

Img_7401_2

And then the lobsters. 

And then you put in the steamers, and potatoes, and sausage or, in our case, linguica.

Put the rest of the rockweed on top of that, and (don't laugh)

Img_7408

cover the whole thing with a wet pillowcase.  Okay, I know it's not really the official standard traditional swamp yankee way…but it helps keep the seaweed on top wet, and it worked, so just bear with me.

We left this for about an hour and fifteen minutes.  Bill just now, as I'm typing, said next time he might go an hour and a half, but an hour and fifteen worked.  The rule of thumb is – when the potatoes are cooked through, the bake is done.

Img_7410 

As the heat from the rocks and the moisture from the rockweed cook the lobsters and clams and everything, the smoky, salty perfume of baking seafood will begin to escape from the pillowcase.  Here you see Alex…sniffing….(and I just noticed that on the windowsill you see motrin and tylenol.  Julia's back molars are coming in and she's been rather cranky about it at times.)

But anyway…

Img_7417

You can see how hot it gets – see the steam coming off the top.  It's a good idea to spray some water on the pillowcase every now and then.  Not a lot – you don't want to cool things down.  But you want to keep the moisture in.

Img_7440

And when you think it's done (in our case, about an hour and fifteen minutes later), you remove the top layer of rockweed, stick a knife in one of the potatoes to see if it's cooked through…and then…

Img_7442

you check one of the clams.  It should be open and the flesh firmed up like you can (sort of) see above.  I could stare at that picture all day. 

Img_7443

There's the top…cooked through and smokey and sea-salty and heavenly.

Img_7454

So now you dump the contents into a great big bowl…and you try to prevent your small son from grabbing all the lobsters for himself.

Img_7459

It doesn't get much better than this.

 

One thought on “Clambake – An All-Day Affair

  1. I am pretending to be a part of your family right now. I love lobster. I love potatoes. I want to do a clambake. I don’t know how. I know you tried to teach with pictures, but I would still have to hire you and Bill and Alex. I wouldn’t even make Julia get sand on her ass.

Leave a Reply