August 4, 2011

New England Clambake (How to)

A New England tradition, the clambake is as indigenous to southeastern Massachusetts as its originators, the Wampanoag Indians. An early clambake may have consisted of native oysters, scallops, soft-shelled crabs, quahogs, and fresh water fish along with squash and corn. A modern clambake, however, consists of lobster (usually only in the restaurant variety "bake"), clams, mussels, potatoes, corn and onions. Fish, sausage and chicken can also be used. But the art of preparing a traditional pit-dug clambake is no small undertaking and it's still practiced by a few local bakemasters whose techniques are passed down through the generations.

A large pit is dug, filled with stones, and then a wood fire is built to heat the stones until they are red hot. The fire will burn for several hours. Crates of clams, potatoes, onions, sausages, corn, and fish stand nearby.

Volunteers have been opening packages and filling crates all morning. Fish is placed in paper bags and will steam cook next to all of the other goodies.

Once the stones are hot enough, the wood coals are raked away.

Seaweed is watered down and dumped onto the hot stones.

Once the seaweed is placed evenly over the stones, the food is then layered on top. The clams go first.

Food is piled high and ready to be steamed.

Several wet tarps cover everything so the food can steam. After about an hour, the food will be ready to eat.


Shelly said...

Can you believe that I've never been to a traditional clambake and I grew up for 22 years in Southern Massachusetts? But then again, I don't like most seafood, so maybe that is why ;)

Those are great photos of one though.

Kimberly Merritt said...

Ha. I'm with you shelly. Although I love most seafood, I'm not a fan of steamed clams. I'm the picture taker at this event. I'm glad you liked them.

bcr8tive ♥ said...

Oh I was so happy to find this. I'm pinning away on Pinterest & wanted pics of a good old fashioned REAL New England Clambake. At first I only found a site about "surviving" and placing tree branches for the vegetation for steaming & I was like Noooo ツ

I miss these so much. I can almost taste the food just looking at the pictures. Mmmm.

For the poster who said they never really liked seafood much... my Mom was like that... She would say to all of us, "I dont know how you can eat that, it looks like bugs" (the lobster & crabs) - as we said, "Like this" and slurped away ツ

Thank you for posting this.

bcr8tive ♥