Foodstuff: Mirabel Brand Pre-Cooked Frozen Clams
One of our local stores has been carrying the Mirabel Brand of Frozen Clams for about six or seven months now. When I first saw them in the freezer cabinet over the last Christmas holidays, I almost passed them by because, to tell you the truth, I am not a really huge fan. I actually love shellfish in general, and could almost live on seafood alone, but clams, I have to say, pretty much come last on my list of preferred types. I don’t mind the breaded clam ‘strips’ that many restaurants serve, but whole clams just don’t usually do it for me.
Anyway… despite my lukewarm feelings about this particular mollusk I ended up grabbing a package on a whim and I can tell you now that I am really glad I did. Not only were these tiny clams a terrific treat, they turned out to be the absolute best I have ever purchased…
I should probably not dismiss ‘clams’ in general as being my least favorite shellfish because, in point of fact, the term does not refer to a specific species at all, but rather to a wide range of bivalves that burrow in sediment. It is funny that this motion had never really occurred to me before because I have long differentiated between certain named species such as the ‘Quahog’ and the famously massive west coast ‘Geoduck’ without appreciating that a clam is not a single animal but many. There is a wide disparity in the size, shape and diet of all these different types and, not surprisingly, a tremendous difference in their respective culinary qualities.
I am not sure what species of bivalves are packaged by Mirabel… I tried looking through listings of various types on the Internet but I still came up blank and would be very pleased if one of my readers could identify them for me.
The shells of this variety (at least the ones in my packages) are all about 2cm in greatest dimension and most, but not all, are uniquely marked by a dark stripe down one side. The shell is quite thick and hard and really quite pretty in appearance, so I am saving some of them, as they might be nice to use as ‘garnishes’ for other seafood plates. Indeed, I think they would look terrific as little holders for Wasabi, or heaped cones of freshly grated ginger.
The Clams come cooked in the package. Normally, I prefer raw products as I find that, once cooked you lose the ability to infuse the flesh of seafood (especially shrimp) with your own flavors. With these clams, though, that is not a real problem as the delicate taste is not something you want to interfere with too much. I ate one straight out of the shell once I had thawed a package and the flavor is incredible… They are not quite as sweet and succulent as scallops, by any means, but they are still richer than most other clam varieties I have tasted and have a sweetness that rivals any mussel.
The only drawback to this particular product is the price. I am not sure what they cost down south but up here in the North almost all our food comes via airfreight so we pay a hefty premium for shipping. With clams, of course, much of what you are buying is the heavy (and inedible) shell and two packages of these ran me the better part of twenty-two bucks. As there are only two-dozen or so clams in each bag, which makes for a mere appetizer for one person, I can safely say that we won’t be eating these every night of the week.
Still, at the moment, I have three packages of these clams in my freezer. I have two particular uses in mind for them so keep your eyes open over the next few weeks for the results of my experiments…