Oysters and clams are both bivalves, which is to say edible mollusks enclosed in a two-sided shell, and although they have a lot in common, there is plenty that sets these two delicacies apart. For starters, diners can identify an oyster from a clam based on appearance alone. Oysters have irregular shells, and clams have smooth shells. While both are commonly served in coastal communities, oysters are typically more sought after. The following other differences may explain why oysters tend to be more popular than clams.
Differences in Habitats
While oysters are found on both the east and west coasts, their habitats can alter their taste. Oysters are often found in more brackish and marine habitats as they are found in saltwater and grow in clusters called oyster beds or reefs. Oysters also typically attach to hard surfaces, such as piers or rocks, and are common in North America, Europe, Asia, and New Zealand. Clams can usually be found in salt marshes along the Atlantic Ocean in North America, although some live in the Pacific Ocean and freshwater.
Differences in Flavor
While both clams and oysters taste fresh and salty, they each have unique flavors. Clams are known for having a briny and pungent taste, while oysters have a smooth and buttery taste. While eating them, diners might notice that clams are chewier than oysters, while oysters can easily be slurped down.
Differences in Nutritional Value
Both of these bivalves are strong in their nutritional value, which is a positive no matter which one is preferred. Clams and oysters are both low in fat and calories while offering plenty of vitamin B12 and protein. Oyster nutrition is rich in phosphorus, zinc, and potassium, while clams offer manganese, vitamin C, selenium, and iron.
Differences in How They Are Eaten
Clams are typically used as part of a greater dish, like being incorporated within a New England clam chowder. Compared to many other foods, oysters are eaten in a unique way. While everyone can dine on these delicacies however they choose, there is no best way to eat oysters, whether raw, baked, fried, or grilled.
If you’re ready to taste the difference and start shucking oysters yourself, the professionals at Oysters XO are prepared to help teach you how. Oysters XO offers cooking classes, catering, and live oyster-shucking experiences at parties and events. Contact us to learn how we can bring the flavors of oysters to you.