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Clams and Mussels - What's the black stuff?

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I want to like shellfish, I really do, and I like to think I'm making a real effort of it. I have a hang-up, though; everytime I eat clams or mussels, I'm always acutely aware of some black organ inside the thing. I've performed little disections and no, the black does not seem to be a solid mass.
What is it exactly that I'm eating here? Is the thing's digestive tract, something akin to a shrimp vein? Is this what they call the "belly" and remove to make clam strips?
Break it down for me, guys! Am I eating clam turds or what!

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    1. re: jackrugby

      hehehe he said "turds"

      really it's just the undigested remnants that the little bottom dweller couldn't process - hence the grit.

      or something.

    2. I just polished off 10 lbs of steamed soft shell clams (aka steamers). What black stuff? I just tasted sweet ambrosia dipped in butter, washed down with a Long Trail Lager. Heaven on earth. Eat 'em, don't stare 'em down for chrissakes.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Passadumkeg

        Oh c'mon Pass. How am I supposed to eat my oatmeal now?? It just won't taste anything like that!! No fair!!

        Ninja

        The bottom line is, you don't want to know. Close you eyes and enjoy.

        It's like a banh mi. I'm not sure what the meat is but I do know that I don't want to know.

        DT

      2. When you eat shellfish like clams and oysters you just open 'em up and slurp them down. Don't try to analyze them. If the good Lord made anything better he would have kept it for himself!

        3 Replies
        1. re: ChrisOC

          I know this is an old thread but I just ate about 4 steamed clams when I realized they all had large round black parts in them. I am all freaked out now. Will I get ill? I am frightened. Please advise.

          1. re: hungryinmanhattan

            Don't worry, you'll be fine. Like others have said, that's just how they look. It's best to just eat them and not look inside.

            1. re: hungryinmanhattan

              They all have the black stuff. Don't know the details, don't want to know. All I know is it's never gotten me sick.