There is nothing quite so good for the human soul than a day spent at the beach. Listening to the lapping waves, feeling the warm sand between your toes and inhaling the salty breeze will feed the spirit of the inner man or woman. For the flesh and blood man or woman, nothing compliments a mind cleansing day at the beach like a traditional clambake at the end of it. Succulent seafood is both nutritious and delicious and when prepared in a pit its not just dinner, it’s a feast.
Clambakes aren’t just about clams and you’ll want a variety of seafood that will be complimented with new potatoes and corn on the cob. Being by the beach, fresh lobsters and clams should be available in markets close by or right off the boats at the dock. If using Spiny (clawless) lobsters cook the tail only. Place the clams in a sink or a bucket of salted water to allow them to naturally purge themselves of sand. Remove the silk from the corn, leave the husks intact and soak for several hours.
The size and of the pit that you dig will be dependent on the quantity of food to be prepared but the depth should be about 2 ½. Line the bottom of the pit with 4 to 6 inch granite rocks, laying them closely together. Build a fire that covers the entire bottom and keep feeding it, this could take several hours, until the rocks are red hot. Collect enough seaweed or rockweed to cover the pit area with 4 layers averaging 4 inches deep. If the seaweed is collected beforehand keep it fresh and wet.
Once the stones are hot enough to vaporize a drop of water instantly, remove any leftover wood, sweep the ashes between the stones and spread a layer of wet seaweed over the rocks about 4 to 6 inches deep. Place live lobsters on their backs or the spiny tails upside down and cover with another layer of seaweed. Next comes the corn and potatoes, another layer of weed and place the steamer clams on that. Cover the clams with the final layer of seaweed and cover the pit with a wet tarp taking great care to seal it around the edges.
The bake should take approximately an hour and a half to two hours. Carefully turn back the tarp, pull off the seaweed and remove the clams, discarding any that have remained closed. Repeat with the potatoes, corn and lobster. Spread out beach towels and place the clams, lobster and vegetables on respective platters and supply the guests with plenty of garlic butter and lemon wedges. A cooler full of ice-cold beer will round out the feast. Now that’s a clambake. Bon Appetit!