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Dec 1, 2011 01:03 AM

razor clams...where and when they are available

Who *loves* razors? I do, I do. Are they easy to find? Hell no! T&T has them never know when they will show up, They had some east coast ones (slimmer than our fat Charlotte west coasters) over the last couple of days, and they sometimes have the west coasters too. Anywhere else have them regularly?

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  1. I've also seen them sporadically in seafood stores too. I went digging for them last year in WA and the public dig dates are not very frequent and are usually open for a couple of days each time. Maybe that is why they are not always available at the stores.

    3 Replies
    1. re: hollysea

      Ours generally come from the Queen Charlottes where there is a commercial fishery (the fishery in Washington/Oregon is recreational only I believe). I went digging on North Beach in the Charolottes with clam tubes last year and they were everywhere. But it's along way to go for clams, and when and where they will appear in stores seems very sporadic and random. I think this is because the commercial fishery only happens at very low tides.
      They are by far the best of all clams. I just steam them for a minute and eat them with butter. Crunchy and sweet as heck.

      1. re: jcolvin

        "(the fishery in Washington/Oregon is recreational only I believe)"

        No, razor clams are harvested commercially in Oregon (I don't know about Washington.) A commercial digger is just an individual with a commercial license, which allows a greater take.

        1. re: jcolvin

          You steam them in the shell, and then clean them? Typically they are cleaned first, with stomach and guts discarded and siphon opened and sand removed. I'm doing research on razor clams- I'd like to hear more about your cooking technique if you are willing! davidberger at

      2. Order them canned from the Bell Buoy in Seaside, Oregon. Easy.

        11 Replies
          1. re: fmed

            Then you'll have to dig them yourself. The fact is that most razor clams go straight to the cannery as soon as they are dug. When you get a razor clam dinner at a beach where they are found, chances are that the clams came out of a can. There may be a few places where you can buy a fresh razor clam, but not many, because it's not an efficient way of handling them. And how do you know how fresh it is, anyway, unless you buy them live and see them moving.

            1. re: GH1618

              "There may be a few places where you can buy a fresh razor clam, but not many, because it's not an efficient way of handling them"

              I live near Montreal and peeked at this thread because of my love of razor clams. I think the OP is asking, specifically, where you can get 'em fresh. Sure it may be difficut (as the OP states), but surely there are places.
              I'd suggest chinatown only 'cause thats where I find them in Montreal. Are they canned? No.
              Do I see them moving? No, but they are fresh and bundled like this

              1. re: porker

                That's an eastern clam, about which I have no opinion.

              2. re: GH1618

                We can sporadically get razor clams fresh at a number of the Asian markets here as the OP indicated above. They are sometimes available at the better Chinese seafood restaurants in town. They are definitely fresh, not canned. Not to say that canned is inferior to fresh (especially if mishandled). I've had very good canned scuba-caught Mexican abalone that is specially harvested and processed for one particular restaurant here for example. It is better than frozen and very expensive fresh.

                1. re: fmed

                  Just curious, whats the cost of the west coast razors in BC? Montreal's Chinatown is about 800km from the coast and a bundle of clams similar to the link above is about $8.

                    1. re: porker

                      From $6 to $8/lb live which is the only way to get em. Although canned might be nice too but I've never seen them for sale canned. In Spain a can of razors can be extraordinarily expensive.

                      1. re: jcolvin

                        Yeah, I saw Bourdain eating canned seafood in Spain. Don't remember the prices, but do recall thinking I ain't buying that....over $100/tin or so. But not all Spanish canned seafood is $$$$$
                        OK, $13.50 isn't cheap, but not crazy...

              3. re: GH1618

                Thanks for the Bell Buoy tip, we stopped in on our way up the Oregon coast and they had fresh ones in-shell dug the night before. Made up for us getting skunked when we tried to dig them said previous night.

                1. re: jcolvin

                  Glad it worked out. I'll be up there next month, myself. Here (California) I'm limited to chowder and fritters.

              4. When they are bought live in a seafood market, will they clean them for you? What's the charge for that?

                11 Replies
                1. re: GH1618

                  I've never had to ask for that service so I don't know if they even provide it. I have always prepped my own seafood.

                  1. re: fmed

                    So when you buy a fish you have to gut it yourself? I guess things are different in Canada.

                    My mother used to dig her own clams and clean them herself. In later years she stopped cleaning them, and took them to a local canner who served amateur diggers. Now she no longer digs. It's rewarding to everything yourself, but there are far more people who want to eat clams than are willing to clean them.

                    Bell Buoy does sell fresh, cleaned clams as well. They are currently $17/lb US. That's the best way for most people if you live close to a source, I think. Since I no longer live in the area, I get the canned, minced clams, and use them for chowder and fritters. There is no disadvantage to canned clams for this purpose.

                    1. re: GH1618

                      <<So when you buy a fish you have to gut it yourself?>>

                      Not finfish No.

                      Shellfish are another kettle as it were-I can't imagine paying someone to clean Shellfish for me.

                      1. re: Sam Salmon

                        Scallops are routinely sold cleaned. Do you never eat scallop or do you know where to get them live?

                        1. re: GH1618

                          <<do you know where to get them live?>>

                          FYI-I exist @ the centre of a cornucopia of seafood-you have no idea of the plentitude available to Vancouver residents.

                          1. re: Sam Salmon

                            I take that as a "no." I am from the Pacific NW myself, so know that seafood is not necessarily local. Until recently, all scallops were imported from some distance away, but it seems that scallops are now ei g farmed on Vancouver Island. So it's conceivable that live scallops can be had in Vancouver.

                            I'm all for eating fresh, local seafood, certainly. I suppose farming scallops is no different than farming oysters, environmentally.

                            To get back on topic, though, razor clams are another matter. As far as I know, they can't be farmed, and the availability varies with season and the tides. If you can get a live clam and eat it minutes from cleaning it, fine. But that isn't possible for most people who love razor clams, most of the time.

                            1. re: GH1618

                              We can have live weathervane scallops from Qualicum in a few markets (cultured/farmed the same way as mussels), and also cleaned shucked ones. I love the live ones because you get to keep the roe which is discarded when cleaned ones are marketed. Wonderful product, especially as it's hard to get anything from the east coast that hasn't been wet packed/doused in chemicals to plump them up and whiten them. Night and day.

                              Razors here are sold live like any other clam. Because the shells are thin the meat-shell ratio is high. I find they don't require much cleaning. Personally I steam them very briefly in very little water, squeeze out the stomach and that's it...the rest is all edible and delicious. If you were to dig them you'd have to cut them open to rinse out the sand, but the ones from the market are sand-free. The liquor left after the steaming is a lovely sweet clam broth that I drink straight. It's a crime to make chowder out of razors IMO, since they will get tough and overcooked. They are also great in a blackbean sauce.

                              Apparently this year razor clams were one of the "big things" in restaurant/foody circles. Which sucks, because it will put the price up.

                              I guess I will have to try and find a razor wholesaler so i can get tips on when they come in. Otherwise it's hit and miss. I can't visit T&T every other day on the off chance that razors will be in.

                      2. re: GH1618

                        Yeah - I meant to write "shellfish" when I wrote "seafood."

                        Here, I eat most of my seafood (and shellfish) at Chinese restaurants where you would pay a premium to get very fresh stuff.

                    2. re: GH1618

                      I'm not sure they will clean them for you. Get a good pair of kitchen shears and this is the best way to clean razor clams that I have found so far.
                      I've seen them at T&T and in Chinatown in Vancouver before. If you want to go dig them yourself in WA (which is where I went early this year), here is a link. The dates and times are very specific.

                      1. re: hollysea

                        Swimming Scallops are easy to harvest for those of us in the know and a personal fave.

                        There's a commercial fisherman from Quadra Island who always comes to town with a boat load during the Prawn Festival in May-he'll be on the Fisherman's Wharf @ Granville Island.

                        1. re: Sam Salmon

                          I'm envious of the seafood choices people have along the coast.
                          In the words of Mr. F. Gump, thats all I have to say about that :)

                    3. razor clams have to be left in water, either face up or down on each end, so they discard the sand, then flip them over back into the water to continue the self cleaning. once done dry them up in a paper towel to get rid of the moisture, heat up a pan so it is burning hot, throw the razor clams in, add sea salt, once the shells open flip them so the meat side is on the pan and slightly toast the meat and at the end pour in diced garlic, chopped parsley, and olive oil just for 5-10 seconds and remove them and serve with a baguette so you can scoop up the sauce

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: ChefJaims

                        Ok that made me hungry for razors again. Will have to try your method (I'm still a steam then dip in butter guy). I've been seeing a lot of decent large east coast razors lately at some of the Chinese markets, just have to give them the old pinch test to make sure they are still live. East coast a bit more pricy than our Western ones in general.