Manila Clams


Manila clams are a small species of clams that grow both in the wild and on farms in the Pacific Northwest. They are not a native species, but arrived aboard ships in the 1930s.

Aside from cockles, Manila clams are about the smallest of commonly eaten shellfish, at just 1 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Each clam is really just a single bite. They are fantastic as an appetizer in a broth of their own juices, white wine and garlic sopped up with crusty bread. They also work well in pasta dishes and seafood stews, or even as a pizza topping. They are an especially good match for garlic and spicy tomato sauces.

Before they are used, live Manila clams should be placed in a large bowl of clear ice water for an hour. This will allow them to release any sand or grit that is inside their shells. Because they are so small, Manila clams cook very quickly in or over simmering liquid such as stock or wine; as soon as they open they are ready to eat. They can also be quickly grilled over alder or cedar for a lightly smokey flavor and then served with drawn butter. Like many shellfish, they become rubbery if overcooked.


Other names: tapes japonica, tapes philipinarum
Translations: Manila Gliemenes, Manila Moliuskai, Manila scoici, Manila školjke, Nghêu Manila, Manila Małże, मनीला Clams, Manila Amêijoas, Манила Clams, Μανίλα Clams, مانيلا المحار, 마닐라 조개, Manila Škeble, Manila tulya, 马尼拉蛤蜊, Cloïsses de Manila, Manila školjke, Manila mušle, Manila Vongole, מנילה הצדפות, Manila Musslor, Манила шкољке, マニラアサリ, Palourdes japonaises, Manila Venusmuscheln, Almejas de Manila, Маніла Clams, Manilla Simpukat, Манила Миди

Physical Description

Manila clams sport deep, wide bars of color on a finely ridged shell that make them distinctive.

Colors: dark green, white, pink, gray

Tasting Notes

Flavors: sweet
Mouthfeel: Tender
Food complements: Cured pork, Bacon, Chorizo, Crabs, Perch, Flounder
Wine complements: Pinot gris
Substitutes: Littleneck clams

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: january, february, march, april, may, june, july, august, september, opctober, november, december
Procuring: These filterfeeders do not impair water quality or require wild fish as feed. Farmers harvest manila clams with rakes, which do not appear to significantly impact bottom habitats.

Preparation and Use

Manila clams can be steamed, eaten on the halfshell, or be used in soups and pastas.

Cleaning: Rinse thoroughly with luke warm running water prior to preparation and use.


Any clams that did not open their shells after steaming should be tossed. It's likely they died before you got them and can possibly make you sick if you eat them.

History: Manila clams were accidentally introduced to the Pacific Northwest in the 1930's, but have become well established there without serious ecological consequences.



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