Spotlight: Clams from Blue Moon Fish

littleneck clams, blue moon fish, clams, hard shell clams

So, about those beautiful littleneck clams I bought from Blue Moon Fish

I had big plans to make a New Haven-style clam pizza with Mark Bittman’s food processor pizza dough (recipe to come!), and the fact that I didn’t know the first thing about preparing fresh clams wasn’t going to stop me. It was only when we were hacking away at the stubborn little guys with our butter knives did I think, “Hmm, perhaps I should have bought a shucking knife before I bought the clams.” But nevermind that. We (ok, Matt) got them all open without losing any fingers, and let me tell you, they were delicious. It was like eating the ocean.

littleneck clams, blue moon fish, clams, hard shell clams

Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of getting too caught up in my food preparations and forgetting to take photos, so I don’t have any pictures of the fresh juicy clams swimming in their little pool of liquor on their half shells. But, in all honesty, most of our clams were a bit mangled and the shells were cracked and broken thanks to our amateur shucking job. In fact, when I slurped one down raw with a bit of hot sauce and a spritz of lemon, I crunched down on a piece of shell. There is a reason why every “How to Shuck Clams” video says you should not use anything but a clam knife.

The clams smelled exactly as fresh clams should, like the salty waters of the Atlantic. Raw, they were slightly sweet and salty, soaking in their briny liquor. Cooked, they were tender, sweet, and almost buttery. Combined with garlic, parmesan-reggiano cheese, oregano, and copious amounts of olive oil on a pizza… oh. my. god. It was perfect.

I’ll be ordering a couple of shucking knives this week so we can do it all again as soon as possible, minus the risk of slicing off our fingers.

At the Market: Blue Moon Fish

Blue Moon Fish, Blue Moon Fish new yorkphotos via Blue Moon Fish

Every Saturday at the market, without fail, Blue Moon Fish has a line a dozen people deep at all times. And every Saturday, without fail, I think, “Next week, I’m going to come prepared and definitely buy some some fish from them.” Well, after nearly three years of thinking that, I finally followed through.

Instead of purchasing a cut of fish that I’m familiar with, I bought littleneck clams, a product I’ve never worked with. But before I tell you all about my clams, a little about Blue Moon Fish. Alex Villani started Blue Mood Fish in the late ’70s, docking his 36-foot-long boat at the Mattituck Inlet on Long Island, where he still is today. He started selling his catch at the Tribeca Greenmarket in 1988, and quickly expanded to Grand Army Plaza, where he would sell out most of his catch. He met his wife at the Grand Army Plaza market in 1990, and today, the two of them still sell at both those markets, plus Union Square on Wednesdays.

Throughout the year, Blue Moon Fish offers more than three dozen different types of fish and seafood, ranging from whole bonito and butterfish to  scallops, mussels, and oysters. In the summer months, a typical day’s catch is between 400 and 600 pounds of porgies, blackfish, bluefish, fluke, squid, and at each market, about a dozen different products are available. The fish is widely considered the freshest fish one can buy in New York City, and the Villani’s one-boat, fisherman-to-table operation really sets them apart from other local fisheries.

Instead of selling wholesale to the Fulton Fish Market, where they would just box up their fish on the dock and ship it out, the Villani’s see their customers every week and can share recipes and tips with them. Plus, their model lets them sell fish that other fishers waste, like sand shark or sea robin, because those fish aren’t the target of the larger boats. Blue Moon has the freedom to sell whatever they catch so nothing goes to waste.

For a really great article on Blue Moon’s operations, read the two page piece by Edible Brooklyn from 2006, linked on Blue Moon’s website.

Clam details and a clamlicious recipe to come!