Types of clams: from delicious to inedible

Types of clams: from delicious to inedible

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We are used to imagining them - and tasting them - with spaghetti but we also begin to consider them as animals, as creatures that live in our seas, those that we pollute directly or not every day. To be precise, clams are bivalve molluscs and do not wallow in the sea but stay where there is sand, under the sand, or even in the fresh water of rivers, taking refuge in the mud of the bottom or banks. What we eat most likely come from Spain, where they almost come from all kinds of clams, the best ones and with the right consistency to make our mouth water.

Clams: scientific classification

Among the clams we can distinguish several varieties that have their own differences even if to an inexperienced eye they do not appear immediately clear. Or maybe we have never asked ourselves while enjoying their flavor without asking ourselves too many more naturalistic questions. Here are the clams that we can find along the spanish coast, the first three are native to this territory while the last ones come from the Philippines but they have been able to adapt very well to the Iberian climate

  1. Venerupis corrugata (babosa)
  2. Vongola verace (fine)
  3. Vongola rubia
  4. Filipino true clam

Nutritional properties of clams

Clams, like mussels, have very few calories and are mostly proteins. To be precise, 100 grams of clams account for 72. For 57% they are therefore proteins, then there is 31% of lipids. Here's what they contain:

  • 82.5 g of water
  • 10.2 g of protein
  • 67 mg of cholesterol
  • 2.5 g of lipids
  • 2.2 g of available carbohydrates
  • 2.2 g of soluble sugars
  • 1,202 mg of sodium
  • 628 mg of potassium
  • 92 mg of calcium
  • 28 mg of iron
  • 18 mg of magnesium
  • 0.1 mg of vitamin B6
  • 16 µg of vitamin A retinol equivalent
  • traces of vitamin C


The scientific name of this species is Ruditapes Decussatus, but it is often called true or fine and comes to us from the intertidal area of ​​Spain in whose waters it takes refuge between 15 and 30 cm of sand in order to develop the best. If we look at the appearance of these clams, their shell, we find it colored in a rather uniform way with colors ranging from white to brown with the aim of camouflaging itself in the sand in which they were born.

There is also a slight texture in this solid color that marks the concentric and radial lines and which makes the verace recognizable compared to other clams. Another way to understand that it is precisely this species is to look at the siphons which in this case are particularly long and separated. To clarify i siphons they are small tubular structures that allow water to flow from the body of the clams.

Only thanks to these tubes clams they are able to move but also to breathe, to feed and also to reproduce and feed in their natural habitat. They are therefore vital and we can see them with our eyes when the clam opens its shell.

We started talking about the true clam because it definitely is the best known and most famous, both for flavor and texture, which are the best ever, and because they are among all the most resistant clams even once they have been extracted from the water.

Wrinkled clam

Also called babosa, this clam has a characteristic elongated shape and its shell can take on different shades tending to gray, brown or beige. Also in this case to make the difference compared to other species are the siphons which in the babosa are joined longitudinally. At the same time we can recognize other differences by observing its shell which has concentric lines much less evident than the true one, moreover there are no radial lines in its valve.

This type of clam is cooked but it is there economic version of the previous one, not so much for its flavor and texture but more for the fact that out of the water it resists very little so it is really difficult to treat and cook it.

Vongola rubia

Among the various types of clams there is also the rubia, indicated with this name because of the purple and pink shades of his armor. The scientific name with which it is indicated is Venerupis rhomboideus and it can be recognized both by sight, by color, and by touch, by the smooth surface it presents.

At the level of drawings, we can also observe them here but different from the previous ones, a zig Zag. On the market it is considered of series B and you pay much less than the previous ones even if there are many who appreciate its flavor especially in stews.

Filipino clam

Filipino is the only clam that has no Spanish origins and is characterized by a valve with shades between gray, beige, brown and black. It all depends on the place where it is born. It has a shell with drawings very similar to those of the true clam but they are definitely more evident this time, it cannot be confused, also because it has siphons which only join up to half of its longitude.

Today it is bred a lot in Spain, even if it comes from elsewhere, especially in Galicia. It costs less than other types of clams but is the one most often used for preparation of pasta with seafood or in stews together with other types of fish.

How to clean clams

Clams must be absolutely cleaned from the sand they have retained inside, before being cooked. You don't need many tools, just one basin with cold water, salt and a skimmer. Let's see how to proceed. First we check that all the clams are whole and we don't have the broken shell, then we start beating them all, one by one, on a cutting board, with the closure facing down to see if they are full of sand. If they are they will form a dark spot underneath and we will have to discard them as they are inedible.

After this first selection we can dive ours clams in the bowl containing cold water and salt, leaving them to soak for about 40 minutes. Some clams will tend to open to take in oxygen and will release any grains of sand they contain. We take the skimmer and take the clams trying to leave the sand on the bottom.

How to eat clams

There are many ways to cook clams, they can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, baked or fried. The most classic recipe is that of spaghetti with clams. To prepare a kilo of stews they serve 1 shallot, 1 bunch of parsley, 10 g of butter and 100 ml of still white wine.

Let's start slicing the shallot and washing the parsley, then put them both in the pan with a little butter, adding some pepper. When the shallot is golden, we can add the white wine and also the washed clams, putting the lid on. After about 5 minutes the clams they will begin to open and we can remove them from the shell with a knife one by one, keeping the cooking sauce for seasoning.

You may also be interested in our related articles:

  • Mussels from the Mediterranean
  • Catfish: characteristics and recipes

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