The banded carpet shell clam (Venerupis rhomboide) is one of the best known in Galicia, alongside the grooved carpet shell clam, the Japanese clam, and the pullet carpet shell clam. It lives in salty waters, about 5–30 cm from the surface, in sandy or muddy seabeds, where it hides and feeds on small living creatures by filtering water. All these varieties of clams have the same oval shape but vary in size and colour.
The banded carpet shell variety can be distinguished from other clams by its reddish and purple tones. Its concentric and radius lines come in a variety of different shades, forming its characteristic zigzag-shaped patterns. Its shell is smoother and brighter than other clams and appears polished.
Although the clams are already cleaned, it’s best to submerge them in cold, salted water for an hour before cooking to open them up and release any sand trapped inside. Drain and wash them well. Then check that they’re all alive. If any of them have open valves, it means that they’re dead.
The banded carpet shell clam, in addition to its delicious flavour, stands out nutritionally for its high mineral (iron, potassium, selenium and calcium) and vitamin content (B vitamins, especially vitamin B12). It’s an excellent food for strengthening our immune system and boosting our defences. It’s also recommended for people suffering from anaemia.
After this process, they can be prepared as desired. They can be steamed, made a la marinera, or feature in rice dishes, fish soups and stews. In any case, the cooking time should always be kept to a minimum, and if you decide to steam them, adding a bay leaf or two is a great idea.
Do not use force when opening any clams that are still closed after cooking.