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How to Pick Clams at the Market

For all the types of clams available, there are as many ways to prepare them. Here’s what you’ll find at the fish market, and how to enjoy them.


Tiny, tender cockles are not actually clams, but you’d never know it. Most of the ones sold in the U.S. are imported from New Zealand. They’re excellent with spaghetti or in shellfish stews.

2.West Coast

Pretty Manila clams a.k.a. Japanese clams, open easily and are especially delicious steamed.

3.East Coast (3,4,5,6)

East Coast hard-shell clams come in a range of sizes. Small, succulent littlenecks are great with pasta or on the half shell. Mahogany clams are comparable to littlenecks, but with higher salinity. Cherrystones are a bit larger and firmer; use them for clams casino. Chowders are big, briny, and chewy, ideal for—you guessed it—chowder.


Soft-shelled steamer clams don’t close completely, so they can be gritty. The solution? They’re usually steamed and served with a cup of hot broth to swish them around in before they get dunked in sweet melted butter.

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