Soft shell clams, often called steamers, are plentiful in the United States, especially Maine. Perfect for a summer meal with a cold beverage, steamers are low in calories and fat and an excellent source of protein, vitamin B-12, iron, potassium and omega-3 fatty acids. Ideally, you should cook steamers as soon as possible while they're still fresh, and you can enjoy them with a side of melted butter or just savor the flavor of their own broth.
Soak your steamers in a gallon of water with 1/4 cup of salt for about an hour to remove dirt, sand and grit, then rinse them off. If you don't have time to soak your steamers, just rinse the clams thoroughly in water until there's no sandy residue left in your sink. Discard any steamers with damaged or broken shells.
Place your steamers in a large pot containing about 1 to 2 inches of water. Add a splash of dry white wine to the pot, and bring to a boil.
Cover the pot with a lid, and allow the clams to boil in the water for about five to 10 minutes until their shells fully open. Shake the pot occasionally to move the clams around. When the shells open, turn down the heat and let them steam, covered, for an additional three to five minutes.
Remove the clams with a large spoon, and transfer them to a bowl. Discard any clams that failed to open during the cooking process, as they may not be safe to eat. Pour the broth through a strainer over the bowl of steamers.
Garnish the steamers with a little fresh parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper. Serve with melted butter on the side if you wish.
Try adding a chopped and sauteed shallots and garlic to your clam broth for added flavor.
If you have an immune compromised disease or health condition such as diabetes, cancer, liver disease, alcoholism or AIDS, do not eat partially cooked or raw clams.