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Canned Clams

I am attempting to make Linguine with Clams for my brother's birthday this Sunday (his favorite) and the recipe I have calls for a can of chopped clams in juice. Unfortunately I am not familiar with buying canned clams. Is there a good brand out there that someone could recommend? Or maybe one that uses better quality clams or tastes better then others?

Thanks in advance for any recommendations!

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  1. Do you have access to fresh clams - even though the recipe calls for canned? If so, I'd definitely go that way. Also, if you've made this before, I'd be happy to post my variation on Marcella Hazan's recipe - my all time favorite.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      post away - would love to see it...

      1. re: bluesman13

        24 little neck clams (I buy the smallest clams I can find, and adjust the numbers accordingly - I might buy 48 tiny ones if I'm serving 4 people - if I have to buy big ones, I chop them up - also, some might be bad, so I might get a couple extra to factor that in)
        5 T extra virgin olive oil
        2 Lge garlic cloves, sliced paper thin (I use my truffle shaver)
        3 T chopped parsley
        1 tsp hot chili pepper flakes
        2-3 plum tomatoes, chopped into 1/2 inch dice
        1/2 cup dry white wine
        1 lb pasta
        8-10 basil leaves

        Clams: Wash/scrub clams. Then put into a pan so that they pile up about 3-4 deep (I prefer a narrower pan, so that I lose less juice) and cover. Put over high heat, check frequently and remove the ones that have opened. If I'm left w/ a couple that haven't opened, I pour out the liquid and then keep cooking the remaining ones until they do. Remove meat from shells, swish clams around in the liquid, then put in small bowl (cutting up first if large) and cover w/ 2T olive oil and saran wrap. Don't refrigerate.

        Clam juice: Strain clam juice through paper towel lined strainer into a bowl.

        Sauce: At this point, have everything ready, b/c it goes quickly from here! In a broad skillet/saute pan (big enough to add the pasta later), put in 3 T olive oil and garlic, heat at medium high for a couple of seconds, and don't let it get any color on it. Add parsley and chili pepper, stir, add tomatoes, cook 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add white wine. Simmer about 1 minute, until it reduces quite a bit and turn off heat.

        Cook pasta (spaghetti - one pound for this amount) until just undercooked. Turn heat under sauce on high, add drained pasta and clam juice and then toss while it is cooking, until all the liquid is evaporated. At this point, add the clams and olive oil, and the basil (tear up), toss again and serve immediately. I like to serve some extra hot chili pepper in case people want it spicier.

        1. re: MMRuth

          I use the same recipe. It is the best. I will add that as you are cooking the clams, dont be alarmed that the liquid doesnt come out right away. It will come out eventually and you will have enough liquid.

    2. If you have to use canned, the bag style of Chicken of the Sea is quite good. Not much juice so I add some clam juice from a bottle.

      1. I've had good luck with Snow's chopped clams. They come in clam juice. You note the recipe calls for "a can"; think you will need more than one can.

        1. I use two cans of (Snow's, Groton's) chopped clams (drained, juice saved) plus 8 oz bottle of clam juice per NYTimes Cookbook (Claiborne). Makes a nice creamy sauce, plenty for 4-6 - family loves it.

          1. Thank you for all the suggestions!
            I suppose I could use fresh clams, however I've never prepared them myself to use in any recipes so I'd probably have to experiment a little first.
            The only time I endulge in Linquine with Clams is when I order it out, but I would love to see the recipe mentioned, then I could start making it at home more often. YUM!

            1 Reply
            1. re: lollipop

              Use the canned clams - I always use a combination of chopped clams (Doxsee or Cape May brand) as well as a can or two of whole baby clams. Make sure to add some lemon juice and a splash of white wine and your brother will be in heaven!

            2. You should be able to get decent chopped clams at the fish counter of your supermarket along with some nice littlenecks still in the shell.

              1. For an easy winter lunch on a low inertia day, I'll combine a can of Snow's chopped clams, including the juice, with a can of Campbells or equivalent clam chowder, which is really potato soup masquerading in sheeps clothing. Croutons, a splash of Tabasco. Works.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Veggo

                  yes it does work. a year or so ago, my wife and were having coffee in the lobby of a nice boutique hotel in chicago. a delivery man came in the side door with a case of campbell's chowder and a case of canned clams.

                  we now call supped up canned chowder "chicago style." not as good as real new england or rhode island or manhattan--but sometimes better than no chowder at all..

                2. You really have to try using fresh clams as opposed to canned. You won't believe the difference, and they're really not hard to prepare.

                  1. Thank you so much that sounds absoluetly delicious, I'm going to have to give it a try!

                    1. this is probably a bit late but i came across the BEST canned baby clams. they are in their own broth, no added fat. the brand name is "flower." i got them from asiafoods.com and they're under 2$ a can. they're tender and sweet, and considerably less expensive than the stuff i've bought at a local gourmet fancy market.

                      1. Piling on since this thread has been resurrected. I've had good luck with Trader Joe's canned clams. Add some white wine, olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley and fettucine and you have a quick, tasty meal.

                        1. Canned clams are a pantry staple for me. You can buy Doxee in chopped or minced form, and the clam juice is right there for you to toss into your sauce. I have done this many times over the years, and it is absolutely fine.

                          Fresh are nearly always preferred, but you need to be sure that that they are truly fresh, be adept at opening them and preserving the liquid, and be diligent about scraping any sand out of them. This may not always be possible, so canned clams are a decent alternative. BTW -- I am NOT suggesting that they are the best replacement for anything other than fresh to be cooked in something other a sauce -- white, red or Alfredo.

                          Don't be afraid to try it.

                          1. I like more a natural clam broth with a little cream. I don't really enjoy the red sauce version listed below not offense MM Ruth (and not your version ... just a red sauce is all), but I am sure it is very good it sounds very flavorful. Just prefer white with a more broth recipe. But my ex like red, so I have made both many times. As far as clams, my store actually had some frozen ones which I used once and not bad, fresh is always better but more work but worth it by far. Canned, I don't have a favorite. I got some at a local seafood market once, but honestly don't know the brand wish I did. Other than that I have used chicken of the sea and found no fault with them. I just try to get more the whole or not diced or chopped. Been a couple of years since I bought them. Either way, I agree with MMR, I like the garlic, I use parsley in mine but who doesn't like basil, I like one small shallot thin sliced, some extra clam stock/broth and cream for my broth, a dash of sherry or white wine a little parm to top. I also love to add some bread crumbs to my dish after mixed with the pasta and then oven baked for just a few minutes to toast up. It makes a great topping to the dish. This always would work with the red. I think all sound good. And I'm a late post, but thought it might be useful for later on if you make it again.

                            1. I used to use Snow's chopped clams almost exclusively (except the rare times I make it with fresh clams).
                              Lately though I have been buying canned baby clams and they're even better. There are several brands in the supermarket, including Chicken Of The Sea, Roland, and one or two others.

                              Recently in a Korean grocery I spotted packages of frozen baby clam meat...they looked so good I picked up a pack to see how they fare in the linguine dish, probably my favorite pasta preparation.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: The Professor

                                It was over a year ago when I found the frozen baby clams and I loved them. Just at my local Publix. They were really good. I haven't found them Since. Albertsons used to carry them but they are gone locally, they are about 45 away so I don't go there much. I saw them also at Whole Foods once but not in the last year.

                                Do you make red or white. I prefer white, but both are good

                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                  My preference is the white. I keep it fairly simple...olive oil, parsley, LOTS of garlic, a bit of crushed red pepper, the clams and broth, a splash of wine, and I'll finish it by stirring in a small pat of butter.
                                  An Italian friend (born and raised in Italy) interestingly noted that where he came from they would never serve it on linguini but rather, buccatini. In any case, there is nothing like white clam sauce and pasta, with some rustic bread to soak up the sauce dregs from the bowl. I don't think I could ever get tired of this dish.

                                  1. re: The Professor

                                    I forgot a few red pepper flakes. I do add a little shallot and just a little cream but very little, just a couple of tablespoons but depends on how many clams vs pasta. My friend always has to have grated parm on top but I could easily do without it. Ever put the whole dish in individual gratain dishes and then top with a mix of parm and breadcrumbs? Decadent. Just a few minutes on broil to brown. Really good and easy

                                    Got to have the bread too. Good crusty bread. So CHEAP and easy and perfect food. I've made it with or without wine, with/without fish or clam broth, or even chicken broth You can really vary this to what you have.

                                    FYI, buccatini is good I love the a few types which I can't find locally even an a local Italian shop which I need to just make myself. No room for a pasta maker but what to try to make some unique shapes and then freeze.

                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                      I purchased Snow's/Doxsee chopped clams from BJ's Club in a 51 oz net weight can and, surprisingly, when drained there is only 17 oz of clams (34 oz liquid) in the can. I called the company (Bumble Bee in San Diego) to complain and they say this is normal. I think it is unfair that they do not mention the drained weight as from what I understand, the net weight is supposed to be the drained weight. The trick they seem to use is to list the first ingredient as "Clams and Clam Juice", thereby hiding the ratios of what is truly in the can. The bottom line is that I make red clam sauce which requires very little juice so 32 oz of juice goes down the drain. Can anyone clear up why there is 70% juice in a can of chopped clams? It isn't that way with the smaller 6.5 oz size so why is it so with the larger sized cans?

                              2. I buy Roland brand baby clams in the can. Amazingly, for a "de luxe" brand label, the pricing of these clams varies widely; expensive in specialty shops, but really cheap in Asian markets.

                                Asian markets sell a variety of canned/frozen clam products that're very wholesome.

                                Another two cents: I do believe that using fresh clams turns one's dish into a whole new thing. You should try fresh at least once.

                                1. A lot of older recipes call for canned clams. I often recipes from the 60s seem to call for canned clams ( I am thinking of the NYT cookbook) but by all means get fresh ones if you can.

                                  1. Just heard Doxee went out of business recently, for all their fans. Oh well. Their frozen chopped clams were the bomb.

                                    1. The Superior Touch Better Than Bouillon line of bases includes clam. I have a partially used one in the freezer (probably doesn't need to be stored there) for any clam dishes that on final tasting seem to need a little more oomph.