Mussels or clams?

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Sundancer7
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2006/05/02 17:31:07 (permalink)

Mussels or clams?

Being from East Tennessee, I have very little coastal experience in seafood. I have had fried clams from the northeast and mussels on the west coast. I enjoyed both but quite frankly I enjoyed the mussels in a garlic and wine sauce the best although the Clam Shack sure did supply some great clams.

I am just curious what the majority of the folks enjoy the most. It perhaps will be a divisional thing depending on where you are from but from my opinion, east Tennessee ain't divisional. We get what we get except when I visit either coast.

I am interested in hearing the pros and cons of each.

You may recall a few months ago, a poster sent us a pic of a clam that was almost obscene. I guess they taste better than they look?

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN
#1

29 Replies Related Threads

    salsailsa
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/02 17:52:12 (permalink)
    Hi!

    I love mussels. Unfortunately, I've never had fresh clams. I've only had frozen, chewy clam strips and canned clams in clam chowder. That picture sure does look great though!

    I like Mussels steamed with ginger, cilantro and green onion. I also had an amazing dish of mussels served in a sambuca cream sauce. I hate sambuca and I practically licked the bowl clean.
    #2
    seafarer john
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/02 18:12:32 (permalink)
    I love mussels cooked in a little white wine, butter, shallots, and black pepper, with a loaf of crusty bread. And I love raw clams and I love steamed clams, and I love stuffed clams, but they have become ridiculously expensive in recent years and being a lucky individual who grew up with ridiculously cheap clams, we rarely eat them any more. When clams cost as much as oysters, I always choose the oysters.
    #3
    Ashphalt
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/02 18:54:38 (permalink)
    It all depends on what is available and fresh.

    As a baby, we spent summers in Welfleet on Cape Cod. Family legend has it that my first solid food was a steamed clam someone dropped and I picked up. My Mom wanted to take me to the hospital, my Dad wanted to give me more. We ate steamed soft shells (those obsene looking ones) because they were free and fresh and I learned to dig clams by the time I was three. Mussels were trash you wouldn't feed to a dog. Oysters were a specialty item out of our reach. Hardshell clams were Quauhogs you bought on the wharf and used to make chowder.

    As a young man in New York, all seafood was expensive and of questionable origin. Still, sometimes fish is a must. I discovered that oysters, when no more expensive than clams and usually fresher, are a great treat. (With proper refrigeration, oysters hold much better than clams.) And I found that mussels, prepared in a shallot wine broth, or in a southeast Asian broth with lemon grass, have an assertive but sweet ocean flavor that holds up to seasoning.

    I still love steamed soft shells no more than a day or two out of the beach, dipped in melted butter. And I love them fried. Fresh they have a delicate texture and flavor that is incomparable (and nothing like the chewy strips of sea clam). But if I'm at a restaurant that is not specifically known for perfectly fresh seafood I'm as likely to order something like mussels marinara.

    IMO most people who aren't big on shellfish do like scallops, which are readily available in most areas, although usually better near the coasts. And if you ever have a chance to eat raw scallop and roe straight from the water, you'll know what real scallops are.
    #4
    WVHillbilly
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/02 23:16:04 (permalink)
    Ash, Yea, mussels were something that grew on rocks that we ignored. I remember mashing them up for chum a couple times. No one would have thought of eating them.
    I find they are not bad in Italian dishes.
    Clams are just about my favorite food. . . if I had to pick one.
    Also, 10-4 on the raw scallops and roe!
    #5
    seafarer john
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/03 09:20:18 (permalink)
    Despite a lot of time spent on the Connecticut shore as a teenager I never ate a mussel and I dont remember anyone I knew ever eating one. My first mussel encounter was in a longshormen's bar in Red Hook, Brooklyn sometime about 1948. The bartender had brought out a big bowl of mussels in a hot red sauce - and except for the unexpected red pepper heat I was hooked from then on. That was in the days when workingmen's bars still were expected to have free bar food, and this place, close to the dock where we were berthed, I soon discovered, always had real substantial fare on the bar. Nowadays I would never ruin a mussel by losing it in such a strong sauce, but that first encounter was a great introduction to a fabulous seafood.

    BTW: Those beautiful fat tasty spotlessly clean mussels from PEI are a great joy to eat.

    Cheers, John
    #6
    UncleVic
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/03 17:00:02 (permalink)
    In my neck of the woods, if there's fresh seafood (overnighted), the dinner is beyond my budget.. Though I have to say the most memorable is the mussels. It's been many a year now, and I have no clue on how they cooked them, but they sure where tasty!
    #7
    nvb
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/03 18:07:30 (permalink)
    My favorite is steamed mussels with drawn butter. Never did like those wine sauces.
    #8
    V960
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/05 18:57:00 (permalink)
    Having spent a winter in Belgium I love steamed mussels in a thin wine sauce w/ a laof of French bread. Starting in October every small cafe features them as the special, I ate them at least three times a week for months. Same recipe you'll find in in of Julia Child's cookbooks.

    The only clams I really love are the raw cherry stones at the Grand Central Oyster Bar in NYC.
    #9
    lleechef
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/05 20:33:57 (permalink)
    I love them both! Steamed mussels, just with white wine, garlic, shallots, parsley, accompanied by french fries for dipping in the broth. Slurp! National dish of the north of France and parts of Belgium. Of course, as V960 stated, you could also incorporate some crunchy baguette. For years I ate this every Friday for supper. Mussels in saffron broth is fabulous.

    Now on to clams. There are "countnecks", "littlenecks", "Manillas", "Cherrystones" and "Quahogs", just to name a few. Those are the hard shell clams. For the soft shell clams I prefer the ones from Maine, glistining white shells, small, those are the best. Those "gooey-duck" clams and some others that have that LONG thing are just not appealing., The hard shell clams I like cooked or not, but the large quahogs deffinately are for "stuffies".

    We're lucky. We have fresh mussels, fresh clams, fresh oysters.........etc.
    #10
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/05 21:17:52 (permalink)
    And that long thing is unappealing because?
    #11
    Phildelmar
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/06 00:15:57 (permalink)
    When i was growing up in Northeast Philadelphia, there were two cmpeting places on Harbison Ave, one called Captain Chets, and, the Blue Point, where the mussels and clams were wonderful, comparatively cheap, and beer and melted butter and god times flowed. Long gone, but well remembered. The custom was to alternate one's orders, to take maximum advantage of both.
    #12
    lleechef
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/06 01:45:15 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman

    And that long thing is unappealing because?

    You don't want me to expound on this.
    #13
    V960
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/06 13:02:02 (permalink)
    Not so much unappealing as scary. I know in one part of my brain it is their foot but it resembles another part of the body. The ratio of foot size to body size makes me feel...shall we say size challenged.
    #14
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/06 13:04:07 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by lleechef

    quote:
    Originally posted by Michael Hoffman

    And that long thing is unappealing because?

    You don't want me to expound on this.

    Only if you really want to.
    #15
    V960
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/05/08 09:14:03 (permalink)
    Perhaps the end of the season but who knows w/ air transport. Mussels w/ shallots, butter and white wine served w/ French bread and a salad. WONDERFUL!!!!!!
    #16
    steveindurham
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/08/23 14:51:10 (permalink)
    I had mussels in a garlic and white wine sauce in an Italian restaurant just outside of Rochester last night. Incredible and awesome. Used the homemade itailan bread to soak up additional sauce.
    #17
    tmiles
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/08/23 15:14:08 (permalink)
    Like WVHillbilly, I've spent most of my life thinking of mussels as bait, but I have come around over the last few years, and enjoy them. I've also enjoyed pan fried razor clams on the Northwest coast, cherrystones on the halfshell, and chowder clams in chowder. I also like steamed softshell clams, but none of them compare to fried clams at one of several top New England establishments. A lot of places make fried clams that are not very good, but places that buy top quality clams, cook them with care and serve them hot, are IMO better than a trip to a white tablecloth restaurant.
    #18
    Diner-Lover
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/08/24 01:36:22 (permalink)
    We're taking a roadtrip to Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick in early September and had hear that we should try PEI mussels. I've never eaten mussels before and wondered how they taste and what the texture's like-- unadorned by sauces or broths. I like scallops and tried fried whole belly clams for the first time last year on Cape Cod and enjoyed them and wondered if a mussel's texture would be like either of those. I also always thought of mussels as those black shiny shells stuck to rocks that stink when exposed at low tide, so never felt attracted to them to eat, but I'd like to try them if they're supposed to be so special on PEI.
    #19
    lleechef
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/08/24 02:00:24 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Diner-Lover

    We're taking a roadtrip to Nova Scotia, PEI and New Brunswick in early September and had hear that we should try PEI mussels. I've never eaten mussels before and wondered how they taste and what the texture's like-- unadorned by sauces or broths. I like scallops and tried fried whole belly clams for the first time last year on Cape Cod and enjoyed them and wondered if a mussel's texture would be like either of those. I also always thought of mussels as those black shiny shells stuck to rocks that stink when exposed at low tide, so never felt attracted to them to eat, but I'd like to try them if they're supposed to be so special on PEI.

    Try the PEI mussels, they're delicious. Get them with white wine, shallots and parsley. Order French fries. This is the classic "Moules Frites" that is served in northern France and Belgium. Dunk the fries in the juice and have a crispy baguette. Bon appetite!
    #20
    skylar0ne
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/08/24 09:32:37 (permalink)
    Maybe the mussels I've eaten have been an inferior type, but to me they seemed to be a lot of work for a teeny little morsel. The taste was good, but no better than clams, or other shellfish that isn't quite as complicated.
    #21
    Scorereader
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/08/24 10:04:08 (permalink)
    not sure how much work mussels are. They open right up. No real work at all.
    But, in the end, though I make mussels A LOT ('cuz they're usually pretty inexpensive comparitively), I prefer all types of clams over mussels.

    #22
    Jimeats
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/08/25 06:57:03 (permalink)
    Mussels can be a little work the good ones anyway. Wild mussels have a beard that must be removed but it's worth the effort. Farm raised lack the beard and some flavor but are still very good. Chow Jim
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    AndreaB
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/09/01 08:02:58 (permalink)
    I love fresh mussels, especially in an Italian marinara or in Pad Thai. My local Kroger's will order them for me, and I appreciate that.
    Clams, well, they're totally hit or miss around here. You never know if they're going to be sweet and succulent or stringy and dry.

    Andrea
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    V960
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/09/13 09:04:45 (permalink)
    One of the great things about mussels is after the first one you use the previous shell as an eating tool. Butter, white wine, garlic, mussels and hot French bread...a wonderful thing. On sale they are $4 for a kilo...regular price adds a dollar.
    #25
    Roy
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/09/16 23:23:37 (permalink)
    My favorites are mussels marinara as served at the Casey Key Fish House in Osprey, Florida and the steamer clam bucket in wine broth served at the Madison Beach Hotel in Madison, Ct. Both are eaten with a expansive water view and loads of garlic chunks (absolutely necessary).
    #26
    Rick F.
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/09/17 01:39:52 (permalink)
    Mussels. . . . 3 experiences:
    • The Peabody, Memphis, TN, late 1980s: Awful. Tough, fishy, ate 1 or 2, swore "never again."
    • Mediterraneo, Park City, UT: Tasty enough, but over-sauced & uninteresting.
    • Carabba's (and yes, I know it's a chain!), Shreveport, LA: simple white wine & garlic sauce, and I'll go back ASAP! Wonderful.
    #27
    billyboy
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/09/17 11:14:46 (permalink)
    LOve the mussels! I've always found clams to be tough and chewy. Mussels have a more delicate flavor and texture. I love the varieties at Les Halles in NYC. Especially the white wine, garlic, and herbs. Penn Cove mussels in Washington State are pretty good too. I had some at a bar in Oak Harbor, WA and was blown away by the flavor!
    #28
    shortchef
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/09/17 16:23:52 (permalink)
    Have you had the green mussels from New Zealand. Granted, they come frozen, but they are huge and delicious. I put them in my cioppino and everyone loves them. I like the little ones too. In fact I never met a shellfish I didn't like.
    #29
    Jaybomb
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    RE: Mussels or clams? 2006/09/21 22:37:38 (permalink)
    Oddly enough, I don't think I've ever had well prepared mussels. I want to, but do not think I have.

    Clams are delicious. I've lived on the East Coast forever, and clams rock. I also like fried oysters; I cannot stomach them raw, though I can with clams.
    #30
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