F oraging Razor ClamsEnsis ensis
Towards the end of March, the moon was full (see moon phase http://www.die.net/moon ) and we had very low spring tides http://www.tidetimes.org.uk which meant ideal conditions for foraging razor fish or spoots as they are called in Scotland. The name spoot is apt, the razor fish 'spoots' bubbles of seawater from its shell.
Razor clams reside in sandy bays and estuaries, and are found on the lower shore. Low tide depths vary, even on consecutive days. Sometimes, if you are lucky, as the tide turns the razor fish will push itself up from beneath the sand. The cowardly forager might like to sprinkle salt over the peeping shell to entice the razor clam out further, and then, firmly grasp the razor shell and pull the razor clam from the sand. Take care not to lose the tasty foot, which the razor clam uses as an anchor to pull itself deeper into the sand to escape from predators. The intrepid forager just goes for it. The razor clam is a sound sensitive creature and will react quickly by burrowing, which will mean one less on the supper table.
My first experience of razor clam foraging was with a wise Hebridean. My skills improved by observation rather than verbal communication. "Shall I take my shoes off and ask my son to look after my dog?" "Aye", was the whispered reply.
The thrill of catching your first razor clam is a foraging experience that can't be rivaled. I was taught to forage in shallow water; I describe myself as a 'paddling' razor clam hunter. Clear Hebridean waters make 'keyhole' (a small indentation in the sand, which is the clue to a razor clam hiding beneath the sand) identification easy. Some forage by the edge of the water, pouring salt down 'keyholes' and waiting for the razor fish to 'pop up'. Professional types mark the salted holes with empty razor shells, as they walk down the beach, before returning to collect their bounty.
Minimal cooking is required and some folk eat razor clams raw.
Some coastal foraging tips:
Use empty razor clams to mark a line on the lower shore, and use this as a reference point to the turning tide. Or note a landmark's proximity from the sea and make occasional glances to compare and contrast distance, as the tides turns. Be safe. If you are new to the area, ask local advice on tides.
Take salt in small jam jars or plastic containers. Cardboard saltboxes become soggy and plastic nozzles clog, when wet.
Forage for your own supper pot - don't be greedy.
There is a delicious razor clam recipe in The Forager's Kitchen (Cico Books 2012) http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Foragers-Kitchen-Fiona-Bird/dp/1908862610/ref=pd_sxp_f_i but here is simple breakfast idea: Scrambled eggs with razor clams, cockles and finely chopped sweet cicely (if you can forage it) served on a bagel- the perfect breakfast for a coastal forager.