Blood Clams Really Bleed
They’re almost hard to talk about. Say their name and watch the faces screw up and say “Eww.” Ask seasoned fishermen if they’ve ever tasted one and get an emphatic negative. But not that there’s anything wrong with anyone eating them. Perhaps raw with lime and cilantro? And do they really bleed? Yes they do.
They are Anadara ovalis, or to you and me: blood clams.
They’re a local species, says Gregg Rivara, an aquaculture specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County. Found up and down the eastern coast of the Americas, from Massachusetts to Brazil, they are named for their most distinguishing feature, vivid red blood that spills out when the clam is opened. Most clams, and other bivalves, have clear blood, but the blood clam’s blood contains hemoglobin.
Which makes it subject to the blood diseases that afflict humans. Blood clams from China have been banned because they were found to have hepatitis.
But no fear! The clams here, which are found in the muddiest part of our local bays, are disease-free and available for sale at Cor-J Seafood in Hampton Bays.
Jimmy Coronesi, the fish store’s owner, says he sells them—at 40¢ a piece—to South Americans, mostly Ecuadorians, who make ceviche out of them. (With that cilantro and lime.) Jimmy’s never eaten one. Neither has Ed Warner, a fifth-generation bayman in Southampton, whose son now also makes his living on the water. Warner brings the blood clams he finds as a by-product of his business harvesting hard clams and razor clams to Cor-J. He says he’s never found more than 100 in a day.
So they’re rare, and expensive and a delicacy in other countries. Sounds like they may have a future here in our neck of the woods.
Let us know when you’ve eaten one.
Cor-J Seafood, 214 Mill Road, Westhampton Beach, 631.288.8184