Are you always on the lookout for a new delicacy to try? A taste to discover, a story to tell? Well, the famous chocolate clams of Loreto are definitely worthy of your attention. The almejas chocolatas of the Pacific coastal region are meaty, tender and flavoursome. Harvested in particular in the Sea of Cortez where they can be found in sandy bottomed, gently sloping beaches and lagoons such as Timbabiche, Loreto and Candeleros.
Chocolate Clams in Loreto
Found at around 2 inches deep these are no small treasures for the fishermen who gather them. The Mexican Chocolate clam, megapitara squalida, can actually reach around 5 or 6 inches across and is one of the largest West coast, North American bivalves to be found. They are also distinctive and rather beautiful; named for their uniquely uniform chocolate colored shells, rather than any chocolate flavor, the chocolate clams found in Loreto are some of the finest examples available.
If you’re not in the area often, however, it’s unlikely you’ll have had the good fortune to try them fresh. No need to worry, however, as the Villa del Palmar resort on the fingernail shaped Ensenada Blanca bay is equipped to offer guests a taste of this delicacy. Pounds of these clams are delivered and prepared in a specialised room daily thanks to contracts with local fishermen.
How to eat Chocolate Clams
These clams are, in our opinion, best eaten in simple escabeche style (served cold, lightly marinated), and if you wish to try this you can have them served on the half shell with some red pepper and lemon. If you want something more filling, however, you can have the Chef’s special; Loreto style chocolate clams baked with garlic, butter, chipotle, and some Monterey Jack cheese. Do make sure to try the refreshing Cortez Sea salad, too, as the serrano chilli dressing sets it off nicely. Lovers of clam chowder should try the Ensenada Banca cream soup, and crocantes with Panela cheese, carrot, onion, oregano and Panela cheese are simply divine.
Collect Chocolate clams like local Fishermen
If you like to get hands on you could also pay a local fisherman to show you where to find clams and how to harvest them. If you do so, however, we recommend that you leave them in fresh water for a few days after collection to clear out the sand and salt.