How to clean the sand out of clams (lala)

At my last party, I made heaps of food including a huge pot of lala soup. The pot of soup was suppose to be something fast and easy to make, amongst other food that takes more time e.g fried chicken. While cooking it takes no more than 10 minutes, cleaning the clams took a lot time and effort. I washed it the only way I knew: soak the clams in salt, wash and drain many times. Still it wasn’t clean enough. And that was the downfall to a perfectly delicious

So I did some research (interviews, reading and Googling) and an experiment. The Internet is divided on how to clean them – some merely ask to be soaked in fresh water for 20 minutes or adding black pepper into water. What is more reliable than the Internet? A reputable chef. Riccardo Ferrarotti, chef and director of Bottega Mediterranea, who once showed me how to make a super delicious seafood soup (Recipe: Seafood Soup) gave some tips:


Clams – like oysters and museels – are in the molluscs family. It is wrapped in two shells, and dig themselves the the ocean or river bed. That explains why the interior of the clams are sandy. According to him, the best way to clean clams is to soak them in a salt water solution that mimics the sea. (Sea water contains roughly 28.0 g of NaCl per litre)



Type: In our supermarkets, there are two popular type of clams: lala, a regional clam, and Manila clams which have thicker shells. The latter is widely farmed because it’s robust and lives in shallow burial. The Internet did mentioned that farmed variety may be less sandy as they are cleaned beforehand. However, I’m not sure if its applicable in Malaysia.

Colour: The fishmonger told me that the lighter the clams, the better. The one is the photo is not bad but I’ve bought lighter.

Freshness: Choose clams that are alive; otherwise they already began to spoil. A healthy clam is one with shell that are closed, indicating the muscle is active and holds shell tightly together.

Clams x 500 g
Water x 1 L
Sea salt x 28 g (2 tbsp)
Tablespoon/ electronic weighing scale



  1. Pour 1 L of water into a basin.
  2. Add 28 g of salt and mix well until salt is diluted. If you don’t have an electronic weighing scale, simply add 2 tablespoon of salt (1 tbsp = 15 ml).DSCF3316
  3. Pour in clams.
  4. Leave in the fridge for up to two days. During this time, the clams will choke out the clams. The longer you can keep it, the cleaner it is.
  5. Pour away dark, sandy water. With your hands, move clams into another basin. You’ll see more sandy residue in the main basin.lala clams


  • Soaking the clams for two days, to me, is too long. However, it is said that the longer you soak, the cleaner it’ll be. I merely tried 24 hours.
  • I used sea salt, but according to Riccardo Ferrarotti, table salt is fine too.

How do you clean your clams?


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