Fresh clams are chewy and sweet with a delicate, almost buttery flavor. If fresh clams are not available or affordable in your area, frozen clams shucked out of their shells are the next best thing. New freezing technologies allow clams to be frozen quickly almost as soon as they are caught, leaving both their flavor and texture as close to fresh-caught as possible. Cook thawed clams quickly, because they turn rubbery when overcooked.
Thaw your shucked clams in the refrigerator. This can take as long as 24 hours, so be sure to plan ahead.
Rinse the clam meat in cool water to remove any sand or grit.
Drain the clams thoroughly in a mesh strainer before cooking them.
Bake clams by chopping them and adding the meat to breadcrumbs, minced onion, chopped garlic, softened butter, salt, pepper, and paprika. Scoop the mixture into clean, empty large clam shells or small ramekins and bake them at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes, or until the mixture is golden brown and bubbly.
Broil or fry clams after dredging them in milk with an egg beaten into it and rolling them in bread crumbs. Broil them for 1 minute, turn them with tongs and broil them for 1 more minute. Or drop the breaded clams by large spoonfuls into 1 to 2 inches of canola oil heated to 350 F and fry them for 2 minutes, or until the breading turns a deep, golden brown.
Poach clams by bringing water, wine or broth to a low simmer. Add the clams and cover the pot. Cook the clams for no more than 2 minutes, and then remove the pot from the heat so that they do not overcook.
Saute thawed clams in butter, garlic, lemon juice and parsley and toss them with fresh, hot pasta.
Follow the recommended cooking times in your recipe; while clams should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F, it's not practical to insert an instant-read thermometer into a clam to check.
Never thaw frozen clams at room temperature; doing so can allow bacteria to develop.