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Types of clams: how to distinguish between them

Tipos de almejas

Clams are one of the most popular seafood products worldwide due to their flavour and versatility. When going to the market, it’s important to know the different varieties of clams, as they each offer their own flavour and characteristics. We’ll now educate you on the names of the most consumed types of clams and how to make the most of them.

Palourde Clam

Its scientific name is Ruditapes decussatus. It’s the most prized type of clam in the Spanish cuisine for its quality and flavour. Additionally, it’s one of the clams that preserves best. The best palourde clams come from the Galician coast. To recognize them, you can check these details:


They are medium-sized and should reach a minimum size of 40 millimetres.


Their shell is oval and uniform in colour. Depending on the sand they live in, they can range from a more greyish to brownish hue. A distinguishing feature is that the shell has a pattern of small squares formed by the radii and concentric lines on the shell.


The palourde clam is very meaty and tender and of a whitish colour.

How to consume them?

The best way to enjoy this type of clam is steamed with a few drops of lemon. Its flavour is powerful and it’s best not to mask it with other ingredients.

Manila Clam

The Ruditapes philippinarum or manila clam arrived in Europe forty years ago from the Pacific coast of North America. It resembles the palourde clam, but they have some differences that will help you distinguish them.


They can reach a large size, up to 8 centimetres.


Their shell is robust, rough and oval-shaped. Unlike the palourde clam, they don’t have radial lines in their pattern. The colour varies from white to a dark colour, although they can also adopt greyish tones.


The Manila clam reduces significantly in size when cooked, they shrink more than other varieties and their flesh is somewhat firmer and more yellowish in colour.

How to consume them?

Their flavour is delicate, making them perfect for rice dishes or fideuá. The larger ones can be eaten raw with a few drops of lemon.

Banded Carpet Shell Clam

This clam is distinguished by the yellowish colour of its shell. It is one of the most consumed types of clams in Spain due to its abundance and competitive price. Its scientific name is Venerupis rhomboides.


Their minimum commercial size is set at 40 millimetres.


They have a smooth and shiny shell that has a yellow or orange-red color. The pattern of its growth lines is zigzag-shaped and is purple or red in colour.


It is firmer than the flesh of other types of clams. It is whitish or pinkish in colour and has a certain sweetness to it.

How to consume them?

The banded carpet shell clam withstands cooking very well. It is ideal for soups, rice dishes, and stews. It is also commonly used in traditional recipes such as the traditional Galician pie.

Pullet Carpet Shell Clam

The Venerupis corrugata or pullet carpet shell clam is a more delicate clam, difficult to preserve, but with a sea flavour reminiscent of the palourde clam. Since it does not survive long out of the water, it is not easily found in non-coastal areas.


The minimum size should be 30 millimetres. It is a small to medium-sized clam.


Its shell is oval or triangular. The concentric lines of the shell are very pronounced, while the radial lines are faint. It is grey or cream in colour, with irregular darker spots.


The flesh which is cream or beige in colour, is very tender and delicate.

How to consume them?

This is the clam that is traditionally used to make marinara or pan-fried dishes.

Fishing port in Santiago de Carril
Santiago de Carril (Pontevedra). Spain.

Carril Clam

You probably know this clam, which is synonymous with quality. But did you know that the Carril clam is not a species? This mollusc gets its name from the place where it is produced, the Galician town of Santiago de Carril in Pontevedra. This clam is protected by the Protected Designation of Origin “Carril clam”, which guarantees both its origin and the maximum quality of this mollusc. There are both palourde and Pullet Carpet Shell clam varieties. They are characterised by their firm flesh and intense sea flavour.

Carril clams are enjoyed both steamed and grilled. They can also be incorporated into stews, rice dishes and legume-based dishes.

There are more than 150 types of clam in the world, but the most consumed in Spain are the ones we just presented to you. If you fancy trying them, at Chao Pescao we serve them fresh, straight from the fish market to the table. Our chefs are experts in extracting all the flavour of the sea so that all you have to worry about is enjoying them.

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