While visiting the east coast this summer, my husband gathered a bucket of quahogs from a bed near the shore. He brought them back and scrubbed and bearded them. Then he opened up the grill.
Quahogs are hard-shelled clams found along the coast of New England. They are pronounced “co-hogs”, with a thick Boston accent.
Years ago, on our first wedding anniversary, before we had kids when we actually had time and a little bit of money to spend, we landed in San Francisco and drove up to Sonoma in Northern California.
Drive along the Pacific Coast Highway here and you’ll parallel jagged cliffs dropping into the ocean, home to windswept towns vibrant with kites and wind-flags and little seaside seafood joints.
Keep your eyes open for the local tradition of barbequed oysters, and became addicted in the way it happens when something familiar gets a mouth-watering and unexpected twist that sends your tastebuds into ecstasy. Ever since then, we’ve been grilling quahogs (another bivalve) on our annual summer trip to the coast.
In California, we watched them place the fresh, cleaned oysters on the grill until they opened. Then they would pull apart the shells and run a knife underneath the body to separate it (without losing any of the precious oyster juice in the shell) before drizzling with barbeque sauce and returning to the grill. It’s hot and tangy, tasting of sea and smoke and earthiness. Pure heaven. Don’t forget to slurp the juice!
On this night, we can’t wait for the sauce and dig into the barely-opened quahog shells, forgoing even the barbeque sauce in our haste to slurp up the grilled blobs of meat.
Mmmmm… salty, a bit chewy, but tender and intensely savory in that peculiar, bivalve way.
The next night, we do it again!