The Québec maritime Blog
Stimpson’s surf clams are sedentary bivalve molluscs that live buried in sandy bottoms below the low tide line in aggregations called beds. This species is relatively unknown since it has only been fished in Québec since 1990 and much of the harvest is exported to Asia for use in sushi.
In Québec, Stimpson’s surf clams are found in abundance in the Côte-Nord – Manicouagan region and in lesser quantities in the Îles de la Madeleine and Gaspésie. Also known as the Arctic surf clam, this hardshell clam species can take over 15 years to reach a size of 80 mm; females reach maturity at about 60 mm in Haute-Côte-Nord. There are two distinct parts of this product that are sold separately on the market: the foot and the mantle. You will be impressed by the colour of this clam: The foot, siphon and mantle are a purplish colour that turns flamboyant orangey red once cooked, much like lobster and shrimp.
Where to buy Stimpson’s surf clam
When buying Stimpson’s surf clams, be sure to look for fish markets that are Smarter Seafood certified. For this species, this certification means that the surf clams were harvested manually by divers rather than by dredging, which is an environmentally destructive process. The Smarter Seafood program promotes the sound management of marine resources by encouraging restaurants and fish markets to introduce consumers to little-known species from the St. Lawrence in order to support sustainable development and protect biodiversity.
Preparing and cooking Stimpson’s surf clam
Stimpson’s surf clams have a sweet delicate flavour similar to that of lobster and scallops. The foot of the surf clam is ideal for making sushi, while the mantle goes very well in seafood and gratin recipes. Stimpson’s surf clam chowder is as delicious as traditional clam chowder. You can also serve the mantle on pasta, with a white or rosé sauce. Since the foot has a firm flesh, it is best to eat it at room temperature or slightly warmed, otherwise it can become tough. When pickled, the mantle will also toughen if heated. You will have more luck finding the mantle in Québec, since the foot is generally exported, particularly to Japan, where it is known as hokkigai and considered a delicacy.
Since this type of surf clam is relatively unknown, why not plan a trip to the maritime regions of Québec to discover it? Because Stimpson’s surf clams mature very slowly, please consume them in moderation but with great enjoyment!
Cooking with Stimpson’s surf clams
Here’s a recipe to try out this little known seafood delicacy!
Seasoned Stimpson’s Surf Clam Gratin
Adapted from the Recettes section (in French only) on the Pêcherie Manicouagan website
Serves 4 as an appetizer
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 tsp chives, minced
- 1 pinch dried oregano
- 1 pinch Italian herbs
- Pepper to taste
- 1 can Stimpson’s surf clams, drained
- Grated cheese
- Heat oil and butter in pan.
- Add garlic, chives, herbs and pepper.
- Add Stimpson’s surf clams and sauté for about 1 minute. (Make sure you don’t overcook as the clams will get tough.)
- Pour into oven-safe dish.
- Cover with cheese and broil at 375°F.