Monday, February 25, 2019

Have Some Clam Chowder Today

It is Clam Chowder DayBoston is proud of its chowder, but is the West Coast, the best coast? 

The article above about west coast clam chowder suggests that clams are smaller in the Pacific. That is nonsense. Still, there is an issue of availability: West Coast native horse clams and butter clams (both big and meaty like Atlantic quahogs) are not widely sold commercially--just manila clams (which are a hard little neck sized clam). If you are on the west coast and want to use horse or butter clams for chowder, you need to find a source or dig them yourself.  

Geoducks are definitely harvested and sold, but at the prices they command they typically don't end up in chowder. Same for razor clams.  If you have them though, they both make a great chowder (or great additions to chowder, especially the siphon of a geoduck).  

The best chowders (be it east or west) are made from clams from clean waters that you harvest and cook that day. Short of being able to do that, get the freshest best quality clams you can get. You can throw in fish and oysters too, but that is more of stew than a chowder. I say the more the better. 

I could also wade into the Manhattan vs. New England versions. Tomato based chowders are fine (and I could go either way at times), but go full cioppino if you are going tomato. Still, I love a really creamy well made chowder. You can also try this New Jersey variant cream chowder.  

And then if you are stuck in the middle of the country (like some of us), you might have to go with canned or frozen clams. While sometimes you need your clam fix, it is not the same. If you don't have fresh clams, alternatively have yourself a brandy old fashioned or Wisconsin beer to drown your culinary sorrows, then go with some aged Wisconsin cheese, brats, or walleye fish fry. You will be just fine. 

The Spruce: Types of Clams

Serious Eats: A Guide To Clam Types

Chowder Recipes: West Coast vs. East Coast 

GiGi Eats Celbrities: Not chowder, but clam sauce (she cheats with canned clams)

West Coast Clam Chowder

FDR and Kate Hepburn having chowder

Amy Schumer gets chowder completely wrong (eat it, not dump it on your head...)

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