It's the time of year when you send your kids or grandkids on the coast of New England out to the salt marshes and mudflats to dig Steamers at low tide. They are the most delicious seafood in the world. AKA Soft-Shelled Clams.
Digging for Steamers takes a bit of skill and gentle use of the right tool (a clam rake or, better yet, a clam fork), because you don't want to crack their fragile shells. And you have to know where to look, because they cluster. The fun part is getting covered with black marsh mud without having to pay for a spa.
You steam up a giant pot of them, just long enough for them to open and cook a bit, but not so long that they get tough or fall apart. You want to steam them, so don't use too much water in the pot. It's acceptable to throw a slice of onion in the water.
Then you pour everybody a mug of the broth from the pot and a heaping pile of clams. That broth is the essence of the sea and the marshes. And you give everybody a bowl of melted butter. I prefer them without the butter so you get the pure clammy flavor. You pull them out of the shell using their long necks as a handle, and I toss the necks to the gulls.
These in the photo below are not Steamers. These are Littleneck Clams, which should never, ever be cooked for any reason - which they have been in the photo. It's a disgrace. Cooking them turns them into clam-flavored chewing gum. They should only be slurped down fresh and alive:
These are Steamers. These precious critters are only eaten steamed, and I am convinced that God made them for that purpose: