Curtis Stone stopped by The Today Show’s Fourth Hour this morning to demo a clam linguine dish, and Kathie Lee dutifully showed off her single tidbit of relevant culinary knowledge, letting the audience know they shouldn’t eat unopened shellfish after they’ve been steamed.
“Well, actually, that’s not true,” Curtis corrected. What the what?!
“Because you can break them open and eat them raw, in fact. All mollusks, whether it’s an oyster, a mussel, or a clam, they can all be eaten raw. It just means that you have to work a little bit harder to crack them open. Because the little clam is still in there hanging onto his shell.”
Kathie Lee and Hoda (and us, and our moms) all vehemently protested, but Curtis calmly kept insisting that unopened shellfish aren’t necessarily dead.
Cue our Hannah Horvath-esque paranoid Googling of potential medical backfires from prying open steamed shellfish.
Here are our findings, none of which are conclusive:
Apparently, this “myth” was born in the 1970s, when one chick wrote it in one cookbook and then everybody ran with it, republishing the “fact” without checking into it. Evidently, some shellfish just take longer to pop while being steamed than others (so you’re supposed to leave the un-popped ones in to cook longer, running the slightly less terrifying risk of overcooking.) Prying them open with a knife is apparently also okay, because if the little guy is compromised, you’ll know first by the smell. You should check if your clam friends are dead before you throw them into the pot, which you test by tapping any opened raw ones on the counter — if they don’t snap shut, they are dead. Also, clams that don’t open after cooking might be filled with mud, so if it feels heavy, that’s not gonna taste good.
In conclusion: Google will make hypochondriacs of us all!
Check out the clip below, and for the love of god, tell us what to do. Any marine biologists in the house?
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