There are various articles on the Internet on how to de-grit clams and they will probably all work. In the US, popular methods include the use of cornmeal to get the sand out of clams. Clams purge the sand and grit out by ingesting the cornmeal. In Japan, the most common method is by using simple saltwater. Fishermen and housewives all use this method and it’s how I de-grit and clean clams. If you are interested in the Japanese way, here’s how we do it.
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How To De-Grit Clams
- 1 Tbsp kosher/sea salt (I use Diamond Crystal; use half for table salt) (You need to make 3-4% salt water)
- 2 cups water
How to store fresh live clams
- If you do not use the clams right away, put them in a bowl and cover with damp paper towel. Then cover the bowl with aluminum foil (clams prefer to be in a quiet and dark environment), leaving some space at the corner for air. Keep it in the fridge.
2-4 hours before cooking
- Gather all the ingredients.
- Live clams should be cooked within 48 hours of purchase. Discard any clams that remain open when tapped with fingers. Rinse the clams under cold water.
- Place a wire rack/sieve inside the large tray/bowl and put the clams in a single layer. The reason why you put the rack/sieve inside the tray/bowl is because any sand and grit the clams purge would stay on the bottom of the tray/bowl instead of being consumed by the clams again.
- To make saltwater, combine 6 cups water and 3 Tbsp salt (I tripled the ingredients) in a large bowl and mix well until salt is completely dissolved.
- Pour salt water into the tray/bowl. The salt water level should be right around the clam’s mouth. If there isn’t enough salt water then make more using the same ratio of water and salt. Cover the top with aluminum foil leaving some space at the corner for air. Keep it in a cool dark place (or fridge) for 3 hours. This should give the clams enough time to purge sand and grit. If you do not have enough preparation time, you should de-grit at least 1 hour.
- After 3 hours, take out the sieve and drain the dirty water (see below).
- Clean the tray/bowl and wash the clams with a brush under cold water. Place the clams back in the rack/sieve.
- Put the clams in clean cold water and set aside for 1 hour to de-salt. If you do not have enough preparation time, de-salt for 15 minutes. Without this process, clams can taste too salty from the salt water. Drain the clams. The clams are now ready for cooking.