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Pasta Clams

No matter what kind I order or buy, they are always very large. I had this dish and they were perfect size. What should I be ordering/asking for?

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  1. those look like littlenecks or could be cherrystone clams to me.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Infomaniac

      Are littlenecks smaller than cherrystone?They are pretty tiny.

      1. re: itryalot

        Littlenecks are smaller.
        Cherry stones I see more at raw bars but they are used in baked dishes and for stuffed clams.
        Native to the east coast.

    2. In the Pacific Northwest, those would be Manillas.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rcallner

        Just saw bags of Manilas in Reno. Didn't look closely cause I didn't have my cooler.

        I so prefer whole clams still in the shell when served with pasta.

      2. You may want to ask for cockles instead of clams, they tend to be ~1 inch across at the most. I think manilla or mahogany clams are a good size too, they're usually between 1.5 and 2 inches across the shell.

        1 Reply
        1. re: egit

          In California, those are also called Manilla clams.

        2. Manila clams was my first guess too.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Rubee

            Personally, for a clam sauce I want the very largest clams, chopped coarsely, and added at the last minute...remove from heat as soon as they cook through. If done that way, they are never tough. All of the clam juice is saved to make the main part of the sauce, along with white wine and olive oil...and as much garlic as you like, and flatleaf parsley.

            1. re: EricMM

              But OP strongly prefers the small ones in the shell.

              1. re: EricMM

                I'm with you, only the very largest clams should be used.
                Those Manila clams only make the dish look cute.
                But, when a restaurant buffet serves those Manila clams I've got to eat at least 3 dozen to satisfy my clam desire.

                1. re: monku

                  But to chime in from a different perspective, all the tastiest versions of pasta with clams that I've had have been made with whole small clams in the shell, no more than an inch or so in diameter. Though to be fair, those have mostly been in Europe - in the States this dish is almost always ruined by excessive amounts of garlic.

                  1. re: BobB

                    I agree. But overall I'm finding I want less garlic. Not that I don't love it. It's just that I want to taste the clams first and just a hint of the garlic.

                2. re: EricMM

                  I prefer whole clams in the shell too, although my husband likes the chopped up pieces because it's easier to eat. I use littlenecks (pic) or Manila clams steamed first in white wine, shallots, garlic, chili flakes, and olive oil. Remove clams, strain, add slightly underdone pasta to the broth to finish cooking and soak up those delicious juices, toss with the clams, parsley or basil, and then sprinkle with lemon zest.

                  1. re: Rubee

                    Should add that Batali has a great recipe for linguine with Manila clams, pancetta, and chiles in "Simple Italian Food". It uses red onion, pepper flakes, garlic, white wine, parsley and butter. Delicious.

              2. My fish store calls these periwinkle clams. They only have them around Christmas though.

                14 Replies
                  1. re: chefj

                    We had periwinkles in Scotland, served in a paper bag, very salty and with the little pin to pull them out of the shell. Fun snack.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I've had a similar preparation of tiny snails in Portugal. Cooked up in a very salty brine flavored with sausage, and served as a bar snack with pins to pull them out of the shells.

                      1. re: BobB

                        I still remember we were in Glasgow, at a Sunday flea market type thing. We'd never seen anything like them before and the Glaswegians can be incredibly hard to understand. So we just bought 'em and ate 'em. Which tends to be a dominant theme in our internation travel dining :)

                    2. re: chefj

                      I know but my fish store (and others I think) call them that. Periwinkle clams. They are actually a European variety that are really small, smaller than littlenecks. I've seen them at Arthur Ave all year around. I think they call them cockles there, if not periwinkle. Either way they are imported so you won't see them everywhere all the time, I always grab some when available just for fun. When I was in Sorrento, this is the clam you always saw.

                      1. re: coll

                        How small do you mean? Dried pea size?
                        I would like to know that other name for them if you can remember it.

                        1. re: chefj

                          The clam meat itself is a decent size but the shell is tiny, with ridges on it. You have to put a few dozen in a dish to make a decent portion. I'm looking and it may be what is called "verace" clams, although I've never seen it called that in this country.

                          1. re: coll

                            I have heard of verace. as well as periwinkle. Will definitely check those two out with my fishmonger.

                        2. re: coll

                          I think I found what you are talking about "Coquinas" which is the Spanish name for them. But they are not Manila clams or Cockles which are much bigger

                          1. re: chefj

                            Here is a picture but it is blown up quite large, they are very tiny in real life. Their color is also sort of mottled, that's one way to identify them. Their full name if vongole verace, and they are also called carpet clams (hopefully this isn't too much information!).
                            I have a friend from Ireland that owns a fish store, I will get all the info for you in the next few days. He will know!

                            1. re: coll

                              Thanks for the Info. That gives me plenty to go on. Mostly just curious about what they really were since I had never heard of them.

                              1. re: chefj

                                I know, you mostly see them around Arthur Ave or real Italian restaurants in NYC, but here on Long Island there are also a lot of Italian oriented people ;-) so if you go to the right market they magically appear. Anyway they intrigue me just because they're so exotic.

                                1. re: chefj

                                  The photo you posted above are what I know to be periwinkles and have eaten in New England; I always thought of them as a variety of snail, not clams. Although clams and marine snails are all mollusks, snails are gastropods and clams are bivalvia.

                                  Wiki refers to the Latin Tapes decussatus (Linneo) from coll's photo link, as grooved carpet shell clams, from the Mediterranean. Who knows what common name they're sold by here, I would bet it might generally be cockles, or maybe just clams.;-)

                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                    The cockles sold in the US are imported from New Zealand. I have seen coquina clams...they are all over the surf zone in South Carolina. They move very fast, and bury in the sand as soon as they are exposed. They are very tiny though...too small to be worth eating. Compared to them, cockles are like cherrystones.

                      2. Thanks everyone. I having been writing down names and will take them with me to my local fishmonger, although I am not hopeful!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: itryalot

                          Asian markets selling seafood will definitely have them.

                        2. You should be using either steamers (soft shell clams) or littlenecks. The larger clams are too tough.