Freshwater Clams


We ran into a “clam vendor” for the first time while in the midst of a temple sightseeing day. I figured out they were food of some sort, so I asked the guide what the man with the cart was selling. He answered that they were freshwater clams. I assumed the man had just gathered them from a lake nearby and was on his way to market or selling them to locals. It never occurred to me that pushing a flatbed cart seemed odd in the midst of a temple complex…


We would go on to see several more such vendors during our brief stay, but again, as tourists, had no idea what this meant. Then one day during lunch on the second floor of a cafe across from the market, we noticed another vendor, a young lady, arrive with another flatbed cart and what appeared to be more clams on offer for sale. She had a tin can to measure a portion and again, I assumed these must be a delicacy and part of several local dishes…


Over the next few minutes, buyers appeared out of nowhere, on foot, on bicycles, motorbikes, etc. all dropping by this vendor and from our vantage point, appearing all excited to see this on offer. Then one of the buyers clearly reached over and tasted the clams (?). How unusual, I thought, so odd to have someone taste a live or fresh clam, or was it, since clams on a halfshell are a pricey delicacy in many a hoity-toity restaurant around the world. Then I started to watch the vendor more closely…


As more and more customers dropped by, inspecting the merchandise and taking free tastes. The clams, the size of a 25 centavo coin, were spread out on the flat surface of the cart, totally exposed to the hot sun, and all I could think of was my bout with explosive clams last year…


But the vendor was clearly doing a brisk business, and her stocks were rapidly being depleted. I figured she would have to hang out at that location just 90-120 minutes to sell everything she had on offer!


So it turns out these are a highly desirable local snack, in the same way we might eat banana que or a New Yorker some potato chips… the freshly gathered tiny clams are rinsed, then tossed in garlic, salt, chilli or any combination of spices then are left out in the heat to semi-die(?) or dry up. Folks then eat this by popping the whole thing in their mouths or prying open the now dying clam and munching on the sweet meat within, with the tingle of saltiness or spiciness coating the shell…


Wow. Isn’t that just kinda cool? Not something I would want to try if you were worried about a weak stomach. Raw shellfish from questionable waters, semi spoiled or dead and coated in chilli…


…but up close thanks to the zoom feature and a high megapixel count of my camera lens… the clams actually looked pretty darned good. I can imagine a local heading over to the nearest movie theatre and watching the latest James Bond flick with a bag of these to munch on. :)


45 Responses

  1. Really different huh? But I too pass on this one…Love clams but not like this…

  2. I guess that the smell is terrible. The color of the clams depends on the bodies of water. If it is muddy it will look like on the picture. Clams from a clean river will have a golden color. My lolo use to have tulya in a garapon with lots of salt in it.mga lalake lang ang kumakain nito.hehehehhe

  3. Flatbed cart to transport, cook, and sell clams? Wow, a multi-tasking, energy-saving food vendor.

  4. That is what we used to call TULYA, is it?…the really tiny ones…If it is hot there now, I am thinking RED TIDE! I am sure it is tasty though just by the looks of it esp. the last photo!

    Judy, off topic again, MM…so sorry! ..your chocolate leche flan cake request is on Leche Flan Post round 3!

  5. Your photo is the telling part – in Kapampangan they are called paros paros. They have a tiny meat with lots of sandy sediment in them as they are buried in the sand in fresh water lake or river. Nursing mothers like to make soup out of them for lactation. I would say it must be a Cambodian kilawin version but more on the exotic side since they use the heat of the sun instead coldness of ice to make it more appetizing which I translate to solar power cooking!

  6. I just wonder how will they open up? Isn’t it that you can tell if any shellfish is bad if it didn’t open while cooking?=)Ohhhhh this one is a bit more adventerous than eating bugs!

    This one fascinates me.=) It only goes to show there are a lot of delicacies around the world that must be explored. I’m sure if this one was done in a household setting I will bravely try one.=)

  7. Yes, as AleXena pointed out if the clams were not open they must be dead or does that mean they were still alive?
    Yuk, I don’t think I will try them this way no matter how much I love clams. But again, it must be a delicacy for them, the Cambodians.

  8. mr. MM, just saw a snippet of next monday’s episode of “no reservations” and you were in those precious few seconds! :P

    i know it’s you from your photos in your previous post! :P

    (watching “no reservations” right now in new jersey. :)

  9. take a second look at the 5th picture: a lady with a mask, hhahhahaha. Very nice marketman, you captured it well!

  10. me too i let out a loud yey and my 5 yr. old son said what’s wrong mom? it is almost 8:00 pm here in los angeles and am watching it on hdtv ch. 452 if u have time warner cable and yes its your segment they are showing the 2 lechon and you in black polo with eyeglasses and AB walking with a BAwal Umihi dito sign on the wall

  11. I’d try those clams if they were quickly stir-fried over high heat in a large wok. I’d pass on this too as i have had a “clammy” experience myself and at a high end resort in Mactan at that.

  12. I hope somebody post on youtube of the US preview with MarketMan in it!

    I searched youtube but only the segment in Binondo was featured.=(

  13. I’ll definitely pass on this one. Food poisoning is no fun at all, especially if you’re on vacation far from home.

  14. ay, i miss the days when our stomachs were strong, and when our waters were clean…, it is wise to invest in antacid stocks and other gastro-intestinal meds…

    6 days til the ‘gala premier’ of MM’s No Reservations…

  15. MM,

    I saw those clams here in our street market. There were even really tiny ones, the size of 5-cntavo coins. Can other MM boardies give me ideas on how to fix them? Aside from letting them die under the sun (I don’t want an explosive clam moment ala MM). The clams sold here are really fresh and I want to try them.


  16. did you see up close the rivers they have and what they do there? you wouldn’t want to even touch those clams, much less eat them.

  17. @Doddie from Korea- When you mean fix them do you mean how to cook them?

    Just last Sunday I cooked a simple clam soup for our family lunch. You need to soak the clams for maybe 1-3hours in water, changing the water every 30-mins or so because the clams emmit some of the sand. This is to eliminate as much sand as possible. Rinse them very well.

    The clam soup I made had minced garlic, onions and ginger as the base. Sautee first the ginger in a little bit of oil followed by the garlic and onions and cooked until the onions are translucent. Add the clams, mix for a minute and cover the whole thing to allow the clam juices to flow. Once you see some of the clams opened already, pour in some rice water or just plain water will do. Allow to boil for a few minutes until all the clams had opened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

    Be careful with the salt. Always taste first because sometimes the clam juices are already salty. Add some chili leaves (dahon ng sili) or spinach leaves, which I experimented on and turned out to be a hit.=)

    You may add tomato sauce in it but may skip it altogether. Personally, I like it with a little bit of tomato sauce sometimes. I find it that corn may also be a good idea to add in this soup. The corn soup with long beans has a very similar taste to clam. That one is for my next experiment hehehe!

    I hope this gives you an idea on how to cook clams. Also, old folks believe you must not eat any kind of shellfish on an empty stomach. Beacuse if you do, you might have that “explosive” moment and a very upset tummy hihihi!=)

  18. hi! if these are paros, I had a taste of them when I was still living in Pasig. There’s a lady peddling it everyday and people would rush out and buy them. Its like kilawin (sour and salty). From what i remember, the experience is quite similar to eating oysters though smaller .It has the same slimy texture. Not really revolting but never got the chance to do it again. Madali mapanis, so one has to consume it immediately. It can be eaten alone with a squeeze of calamansi but some folks there eat it with rice.

  19. wow! tulya!!!! i remember, when we were young our mayordoma made this good soup with tulya but i don’t see them often these days….i miss that soup!!!!!!! anybody has a recipe?

  20. yeah i remember paros-paros….only had it once when i was a kid, made an impression cause it tasted like oyster which is a favourite of mine :)…..i think my grandma just kind of blanched/scalded it just like what she did with oysters…..

  21. You’re right Ms. Maricar, these are Tulyas and we seldom see them in the market nowadays. How to cook – Saute garlic, onions, ginger and tomatoes until tender. Add the tulya, saute a little bit then add hugas-bigas. Season with patis or salt. You can put leeks if you want and dahon ng sili or camote tops. Hope this helps you.

  22. thats tulya and not paros.. i remember when i was a small kid there are also vendors of cooked paros in our street and you would just squeeze some calamansi to all flavor. Though my mom never buy that one of us as it as she says you’re not sure where they get it.

  23. tulya, is still available in the market here, although may season na abundant siya. when i was a kid i remember the tulya manang used to make lako in the neighborhood was just the size of a 10 to 25 centavo coin. when we moved here, i was surprised to see tulya the size of halaan or one peso coin. i also learned that the locals (btw, here is calamba) make the left-over tulya meat from the suam or sinabawan into omelet.

  24. if the tulya were left to ferment, that would be akin to guinamos, diba?

    i havent acquired the taste for guinamos, although my parents and older brother/relatives are all guinamos eaters. we would have several kinds of guinamos when my lola visit would come visit us from cebu. she’d make guinamos na tahong, guinamos na bihod, guinamos na tina-e (yes, that’s how hey called it! its the intestines of big fishes), guinamos na dilis, and the brown ground guinamos as sawsawan for boiled green saba.

  25. Ms. Mwalangkaparis, Chris at sa iba pa….if you want to upgrade the tulya, halaan, tahong soup…make this…absolutely yummy! Steeam the shellfish first in a little white wine in a pot and a touch of water. Then as soon as they open remove with a slotted spoon. DO NOT OVERCOOK! SAVE THE CLAM LIQUOR (juice). Then make himay the clam or tahong meat meat. Set it aside.
    Next, saute some leeks, diced carrots,diced celery in butter. Add some pancetta or Bacon (not much…can be omitted). let it sweat …the vegetables. If you add pancetta or bacon, ease up on the salt. Season with pepper. When the vegetables are softened, add the clam liquor. Let it come to a simmer. Then puree. Lastly add a touch of cream. Set that aside.

    Then make a compound butter using some fresh chopped herbs of your choice and add a touch of BREADCRUMBS. Flatten into a disc about 1-1.5 cm. thick and let it sit iin the fridge.

    Assembly: Clean a can of tuna or anything smaller than can of tuna just a tiny bit smaller…open both ends. Then pack in the tulya meat and top with the compund butter …oh, cut the disc the size of the can diameter. Then put that can on heatproof dish and broil until crust is formed and golden brown. Unmould on shallow soup bowl in the center. Put the soup around the clam tower. garnish with chive flowers or parsley and chopped red pepper for color.

    We had this here in a fine dining restuarant and paid an arm and a leg for the sooup alone. Luckily the rep paid for the entire dinner.

  26. I think this is Tulya and not Paros, the difference i think is that Paros have the smooth shell and softer delicate meat while Tulya has the more tougher meat and hard/coarser shell.

  27. That is so funny MM! I can just imagine someone munching this delicacy in a movie house and tossing the shells like boiled peanuts. I am amazed how they would crave for something like this, galing! The pictures describe it in detail. How does it smell? Fishy? Perhaps the garlic and chili would mask it.

  28. Tulya is common in our local market here in Sta Rosa, Laguna few kilometers next to Laguna Lake. I used to like it alot but its not the same anymore. Laguna Lake is getting dirtier and the fish and clams are eating the wrong nutrients. Even the texture and fiber of kanduli and biya are no longer the same.

    But I will not dare try the one in Cambodia due to food poisoning. I’d rather have tahong redtide mas malaman at mas malasa pa.

  29. MM – the schedule for Travel channel’s program for next week is out. Anthony Bourdain in the Philippines will air on Monday, 2/16 at 10:00 p.m. and will be replayed at 11:00 p.m. Eastern time.

  30. @danney: lol at redtide tahong… i thought you’d rather have the redtide tahong than the cambodian clams. you are right danney. i feel that the tulya and other fishes from the lake arent the same as they used to be. first the lake is more polluted and the lake creatures ingest these. also, the fishes arent having what they are supposed to eat. their given feeds and we know how it affects its nutritional value and quality of its meat. by the way, magkalapit lang tayo. am based here in calamba.

  31. Chris: you are in Calamba? I remember way back when…on our way to Batanggas, my mom would pass by Canlubang, then to Calamba or is it Calamba then Canlubang (can’t remeber now)to visit my aunts and cousins… then off to Batanggas. This was our ritual every Sunday!

  32. Tortured clams??? it seems strange to me, raw clams in hot chilli flavor! its a burning clams indeed. i wonder how it taste when you try to pry or sip it. slurping and gulping in the mouth straight forward to intestines? Who-ah! I remember my grandma who has tuberculosis and always coughing and spitting something in her loved tin can! it has similarity isnt it?….nevermine, i think i say too far, pardon me..

  33. bettyq: yup, that route is still very much alive, especially with the rapid development going on in canlubang… i suspect that canlubang will eventually separate from calamba some years from now…

  34. My dad used to make a chinese version of this – raw tiny clams, lots of garlic, some siling labuyo and some sort of boiled/warm soy sauce poured over it all. When it cooled off, he’d put it in the fridge and we’d have it as a congee topping or with rice. Deelish! I think Shin Tong Yong has this in their V-Mall resto. :D

  35. When i was young my mom used to buy lots and lots of them,will soak them for hours ,rinsing,soaking in between to release sands.Quick boil,drain and pick the meat(clam)Throw unopened ones,it takes forever! then cook them adobo (kapampangan style, blonde– no soysauce)Vinegar,salt, lots of freshly cracked pepper,shallots,garlic,cooked till sauce on dry side, Served on bed of rice with tutong !! its childhood memory.It has been a long time!!Yeah if i am around those vendor,i will definitely will buy tons of clams,but will cook homestyle.This bring back memories to me.



Subscribe To Updates

No spam, only notifications about new blog posts.