Co-hogs, sometimes spelled Quahog, are a large bar clam that lives in the mud here on the West River of Prince Edward Island. Their shells are heavy and thick and can be seen used as ash trays at many a cottage in the area. Several fishermen fish them near my cottage in Meadowbank. They go out with the tide in their little wooden boats and collect them in the shallow waters. They wear wet suits to keep warm. As they walk along they can feel the quahogs as lumps in the mud, then they bend down, dig them up with their hands and toss them in the boat. As the work is done more by feel than anything else, the fishermen often work at night when the tides are favorable. I like the big ones but most people don't so the fishermen are happy to sell them to me. The smaller ones go to the restaurants as cherry stone clams. Not much dignity in eating the big ones as they are a full mouthfull plus some and take more than a bit of chewing too, but they are really tasty. I bought 72 of them yesterday for 2.00 a dozen.

This morning after my coffee I took them back to the shore which is about 100 ft from the front door, and washed the mud off of them. I keep them in a big plastic box, the kind you use for recycling. Tomorrow they will be ready to eat as they will have purged themselves of sand and mud. Every day now I will have to change the water to keep them happy and healthy...If I don't, I will have a stinky mess on my hands. I like to have a couple first thing in the morning. If I'm careful and quietly lift the cover just so as not to scare them, they will stay open just enough for me to stick em with a butter knife and cut them open then slurp slurp they are gone. After I catch a couple that way, I guess the word gets out and they all close up real tight and I have to wait a couple of hours for them to relax again.

They have a muscle on each end of their shell that must be cut before you can pry them open...this now leaves 4 pieces of muscle that must be cut away from the shell to release the meat. If it was a scallop instead of a co-hog, the muscle is the only part that would be eaten. Scallops have very large muscles as they are able to open and close their shell fast enough to jet themselves away from preditors such as star fish. Some people cook these hard shell clams but it makes them really tough like rubber..if you need some jaw exercise, this is just the thing. They are good cooked and ground up in a chowder but I like them best raw like an oyster.


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