Monday, April 14, 2008

Georgia clams...

Huitt shooting Charlie and the clams from the airboat

There's a thriving clam industry happening in the marshy wetlands and tidal flats along the Georgia coast. You could drive up and down the coast and have no idea that literally tons of clams are being cultivated beneath the nutrient rich mud. And we're talking world-class clams here...tender and delicious. One of the folks that's been on the forefront of the Georgia clam industry is Charlie Phillips, seen here searching for large, wild clams by feeling for them with his feet. The wild clams are large and heavy for their size. Charlie has been collecting wild clams since he was a child and knows exactly where to find them. He seems to have a a genuine love of the mollusk and it's no wonder that he turned from a life of shrimping to cultivating and harvesting these bivalves.

Wild clams moments after being pulled from the water

The clams he raises in the mudflats are much smaller (only 18 to 24 months old compared to the 5+ year old wild ones he collected) and are therefore more tender. Charlie and his crew plant clam "seeds" about the size of a fingernail by placing them in mesh bags much like what you'd buy onions in. As the clams mature, the bags are turned and relocated from time to time until they reach maturity. The tidal waters that feed these clams are rivaled only by Alaska for their cleanliness and the clams are truly better for it.

Garlic, white wine, clams, and mint...fresh and delicious

Charlie was kind enough to send us away with about 5 pounds which I cooked up on the dock with a bit of garlic, white wine, and a ton of fresh mint (added at the last minute). That's the kind of food that you can't get enough of. And the best thing is, clams are a food that require very little by way of growing needs. No chemicals, no feed, just clean water and a bit of TLC and you're rewarded with a delicious source of protein that's versatile and forgiving.  

Though somewhat chewier, the larger wild clams are downright tasty

As amazing as the clams are, Darien is known for its white shrimp and that's what we set out to find.  More on that in the next installment...

Be well, eat well...


1 comment:

ATW said...

Where can I purchase georgia Clams from? I want to make a New- England Clam Chowder with some georgia Twist.