Palourde clams with garlic and parsley butter

Belle-Ile-en-Mer, France

Hello Ladies,

I’m back once again in beautiful Belle-Ile in Brittany (lucky me!). The Man and I have been here for the past three weeks making and selling juice, smoothies and popsicles at Juju & Co with our good friends Philippe and Edouard. We are located right on the port and have the pleasure of watching the tide come in and out of the Sauzon harbour. As I mentioned in my post ‘French Toast Topped with Apple and Salted Butter Caramel‘, it’s common for people to go out during low tide and hunt for palourdes clams.

Palourde clam

This time I was determined to learn how to catch the little devils, so I packed my yellow rubber boots before heading out to Brittany…

Rubber boots to go clamming!

Two weeks ago our lovely neighbour Ghislaine taught us how to find palourdes. She showed us how to identify the tell-tale two holes in the sand/muck that palourdes create. You dig where you see holes and then sift through the sand to find the clams. Sometimes they shoot some water up at you, giving away their position! Not a great defence mechanism if you ask me…

With Ghislaine’s help we managed to gather several dozen palourdes and coques (cockle – see pic below) – a real feast!

Coque - cockle

A couple of days ago I headed out on my own thinking that I could easily replicate this feat. I did alright – an hour of hunting yielded 11 palourdes and 1 coque. But what does one do with a dozen clams? Rather puny when split 4 ways!

The solution was simple: make little nibbles to accompany pre-dinner drinks. I thought about flavour combinations and decided to go with the classic French butter + garlic + parsley combo. Here’s how I went about preparing the palourdes…


  • 1 dozen live palourdes, coques or other type of clam (mussels would be nice too!)
  • A good tablespoon of salted butter
  • A clove of garlic
  • A few sprigs of flat leaf parsley


Start by soaking the palourdes in salted water overnight. Don’t cover the bowl too much or the clams could suffocate. If you went out and found the palourdes yourself they may be quite gritty and you may want to soak them for longer and change the water a couple of times. I soaked mine for a good 24 hours and they were clean as a whistle.

Soaking clams

Chop the garlic and the parsley very finely and add it to the butter. Mix well.

Put about an inch of water at the bottom of a medium saucepan. Add salt and put on medium-high.

While the water heats up, turn the grill on in your oven.

When the water starts to boil, toss in the palourdes and cover. After a couple of minutes give the pot a shake and check to see if the clams have opened up. Take out the ones that are open and give closed palourdes a little more time. If a palourdes still hasn’t opened after 5 minutes or more, discard it – it was probably dead before you cooked it and should not be consumed.

Steamed clams palourdes

Remove the top half of each shell and place the other half with palourde meat (is that what you call it??) on a baking sheet. Add a dollop of the butter mixture to each.

Palourdes about to go under the grill

Pop those bad boys in under the grill for about 5-6 minutes. The delicious smell of garlic should start to invade your kitchen – something I know mom will love!

Take the palourdes out of the oven, transfer onto a plate and serve immediately with a chilled crisp white wine. Yup. the wine is not optional.

Palourde clams with garlic and parsley butter

You can use little forks to eat the palourdes or simply slurp them up – a method that proved popular with the boys who didn’t want to lose a drop of butter! As you can see, they took care of the butter and the clams… 🙂

No more clams!


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4 thoughts on “Palourde clams with garlic and parsley butter

  1. Emily @ August 17, 2014 at 4:46 pm Reply

    DRRRRRROOOOOOOOLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!! This looks absolutely fantastic. And I can’t imagine how fresh those must have tasted. I’m drooling while I type this. I need to find clams in Vancouver now!

    • Beth @ Culinary Correspondence August 17, 2014 at 10:05 pm Reply

      They were incredibly fresh indeed! You should definitely find some in Vancouver 🙂 Would mussels be easier to procure?

  2. Jan August 21, 2014 at 8:42 am Reply

    Very, very yum! And cute boots too! Wish you could bring us some……..maybe????

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