How to clambake

First, go to Maine.

–You’ll need lobsters, clams, mussels, corn, and potatoes. I trust you to acquire those on your own.
— Wood — a lot of wood. Enough to keep a raging fire going for four or more hours.
— Rockweed (that is, seaweed that grows on rocks off the Maine coast), and a lot of it. You’ll probably have to gather this yourself, which might be illegal. Check with your local authorities, or don’t. Courage.
— A tarp you don’t care about; it’ll be trashed by the process, and will probably need to be thrown out afterwards.
— A hose, just in case something catches on fire that shouldn’t.
Finally, you’ll need trays. These can be constructed pretty simply, out some boards and chicken-wire. They don’t have to be in great shape, as long as they aren’t going to fall apart when carried around hot and full of food.

Gather a dozen or so big rocks, about 30-50 pounds each. Make a pile with them and some wood and tinder, and light your fire.

Keep building and tending your fire — the aim is to get the rocks blazing hot — for several hours. Over time, spread out the fire and the rocks so that the rocks end up distributed in a single layer along the ground.

By the time you’re ready to load on the seaweed, the fire should be expansive, and take a lot of wood, added almost continuously to feed it. You’ll know you’re ready when you pour a bit of your beer on a rock and it sizzles away instantly.

Once you’ve got the rocks hot enough, rake all the embers off to one side, leaving just the heated rocks behind.

Next, cover the rocks with your seaweed. Hopefully you have a big ol’ pile of seaweed, as you’ll have to cover the rocks with a foot or more, then cover the trays and the tarp with even more.

Load up the trays; the bottom tray gets the lobsters and the potatoes, while the top tray gets the clams, mussels, and corn that has been stripped of its silk and most of its husk.

Now, pile everything on the fire: first cover the rocks with seaweed to about a foot and a half depth. Then, add the two trays, stacked on top of one another. Then, cover the trays with the tarp. Then, cover the tarp all over with more seaweed, taking extra care to seal the edges as best you can. You should end up with what looks like a small mountain of seaweed that’s not leaking too much smoke. Be ready with the hose in case the tarp lights on fire. You can also hose down any part of the bake that seems to be smoking excessively.

Depending how hot the rocks are, the cooking should take an hour or less. When the time seems right (hey, I can’t tell you all the secrets, here. Plus, I don’t know how long it takes. It’s a matter of instinct, and very dependent on the heat of the rocks. Let experience be your guide.), rake off the weed, pull of the tarp, and pull out the trays. With any luck, your food will look like this:

and this:

And now… eat! Everything should be delicious, with the corn especially picking up an absolutely unique smokey ocean flavor from the rockweed. Stop slightly after you’re full.

The real key to the bake process is getting the rocks very, very hot, so much so that they crack. When you clean up later, the rocks will often have splintered into several pieces under the heat of the fire. They’ve lost so much structural integrity, in fact, that they can never be used for a bake again.



  1. ben
    Posted August 25, 2008 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

    They’ve lost so much structural integrity, in fact, that they can never be used for a bake again.

    Greater love hath no rock than this.

  2. Josh
    Posted August 25, 2008 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    I was expecting a Sc/ient/ology post.

  3. Posted August 25, 2008 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Well I was expecting a weed post. But no! An actual clambake! I’m full of surprises.

Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: