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Quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria)

A form of round clam, growing up to about 13cm in length, and found on the eastern seaboard. But is now found in the waters around Southampton - having been introduced from the kitchens of ocean liners. The name is of Red Indian derivation; being the white man"s version of an Indian name. One edge of a quahog shell is usually a deep purple colour, and there are sometimes splotches of purple elsewhere. The Indians used these purple parts to make bead money, or wampum (small beads used by North American Indians as money); purple wampum was worth twice the value of white wampum, made from conch shells. The monetary usage no doubt explains the Linnaean merceneria.

If found on your fishmongers slab, small varieties should be eaten raw or steamed and eaten with melted butter, larger ones are tougher, and better used in a chowders or steamed, then chopped and mixed with breadcrumbs and aromatic vegetables then baked in their shells. See 'Ocean Quahog'

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton French Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards. Small classes.

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