I often think I have a love hate relationship with clams. I love linguini a la vongole (white clam sauce), clams possilipo (tomatoes, etc.), clams oreganata (breadcrumbs, oregano and bacon), clam chowder, etc. I hate raw clams (once ordered them at age 12 at the Windows of the World restaurant at the now obliterated World Trade Center) that are chewy and worse, unclean clams.
My mother had that mid-20th century Filipina fear for shellfish with cooties so we rarely got clams in our house. My taste for them was cultivated during summers spent on Long Island, NY in the 1970’s and early 80’s. I used to go clamming with my size 11 feet (and very dexterous toes) and literally plucked them out of the shallow and clean waters off of Eastern Long Island. My sister cooks clams brilliantly and I have only recently started to purchase and cook them locally. Someone has been flying in clams from Negros and other points South, presumably from pristine waters but you can never be sure in an archipelago populated with nearly 90 million people who have to poop daily. If you find a trusted source, take the risk. Soak clams in several changes of clean tap water when you get home to help them expel any gunk that they have brought with them from their sandy homes. These clams in the photo were just P80 a kilo and I count on half a kilo per person because the shells are really heavy. There are hundreds of species of clam so I will not attempt to find the name of this particular one but I treat them as being the closest local equivalent to Cherrystone clams that I used to eat in Long Island. I have purchased clams from three different places without too many issues (other than excessive silt/sand once or twice) – Seaside Mart (but I avoid anything they say comes from Cavite), Price Smart Makati when they have a delivery from down south (though they cost P160 a kilo), and Gourmet Fresh on Annapolis Street in Greenhills. Make sure the clams are alive, shells close firmly and are stored in clean water. Discard any clams that do not open after cooking.
The cooked dish of clams at right are clams with a black bean sauce. I also like them with a spicy, soupy tomato sauce with some chili, garlic and italian parseley. Somehow, shellfish and pork seem to pair well and I can’t wait to try this interesting clam and chorizo with tomato sauce recipe I saw in one of the recent food magazines. I will post a clam recipe the next time I remember to record what I did in the kitchen.