Littleneck clams are small, hard-shelled clams with a shell diameter of less than 2 inches. They are harvested on both the East and West coasts of the United States. These clams have a slightly chewy texture and a flavor that runs from sweet to salty. There are many ways to cook littleneck clams. Most often, they are served raw on the half-shell or in pasta dishes. They can also be steamed and served alone.
Check the clams to see whether they are tightly closed. Discard any clams that do not close when touched.
Wash the clams under cold water. Scrub the shells with a brush if necessary.
Add 1/4 to 1 inch of water to a pot, kettle or pan. Bring it to a boil.
Place the clams directly into boiling water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid.
Steam 5 to 10 minutes or until the clams have opened. Throw away any unopened clams.
Serve with clam broth, melted butter or lemon, if desired.
Store live clams in a container with a slightly open lid in the refrigerator if you don't plan on steaming them immediately.
Before steaming, throw away clams with cracked shells and clams that do not close when touched. Those indicate dead clams, which are not fit for consumption.