Pullet Carpet Shell Clam (Venerupis pullastra)
The Carril pullet carpet shell clam (scientific name, Venerupis pullastra or corrugata) is a species of bivalve mollusk in the family Veneridae. The Arousa Estuary holds this species’ most extensive production; specifically, the Carril fishermen’s brotherhood, whose members carry out most of the culture and have acquired experience through generational inheritance, making them the most qualified professionals in the country within the aquaculture field, specializing in the production of clams and cockles on sandy substrate fields (culture farms).
The shellfish growing farms extend along a stretch of sand that runs from A Concha beach in Vilagarcía de Arousa, parallel to Compostela beach, and ends at the mouth of the Ulla river between Cortegada Island and the Carril borough. This extension covers an area of approximately one million square meters, divided into 1,283 plots and managed by around 650 families, who culture the pullet carpet shell clam, among other species.
The certified quality seal «Carril Clam of the Carril Shellfish Growers» guarantees its origin to consumers. This marking reflects the species’ agreement to product quality standards and origin’s certification within the region’s culture farms, which distinguishes the product from others on the market. Its high-meat yield (up to 40% more than its congeners in other Arousa areas) and its texture and flavor that characterize it make it one of the most appreciated seafood in the traditional Galician cuisine, and cooking these clams Marinara’s style is the most popular recipe for the elaboration of this product.
She has a robust, oval, somewhat trapezoidal shell. Their length can reach up to six centimeters, while their height seldom rises over three centimeters. The minimum size established for commercialization is subject to the current legislation.
She has a robust, oval, somewhat trapezoidal shell. Their length can reach up to six centimeters, while their height seldom rises over three centimeters. The minimum size established for commercialization is subject to the current legislation. This bivalve stands out for its white, bright, and smooth interior and possesses a pallial sinus overpassing the shell valve’s center. Its surface has distinct growth ridges, and covering the shell are circular lines crossed in the middle by some extremely thin and hardly discernible radial lines. The ligament is of intermediate type and not hidden in any cavity; in many specimens, it extends to the midpoint of the distance to the posterior margin. It shows an elongated heart-shaped hinge area (lunule), never well-defined and little distinguished from the rest of the shell, as is the hinge ligament (escutcheon) bordering the ligament. It has three cardinal teeth in each valve: the right-valve central tooth and the central and posterior teeth of the left one are bifid.
Harvesting the Pullet Carpet Shell Clam
The Carril shellfish growers are aquaculturists; therefore, they do not have a specified harvesting season. Regardless of its gastronomic qualities, the Carril pullet carpet shell clam takes on a variety of tones and colors and adopts some dark markings depending on its growing substrate. Its shell is more fragile and elongated than the grooved carpet shell and Japanese littleneck clam species and shows growth rings longitudinally.
Harvesting is eminently artisanal and commonly performed on foot, although they might employ boats as a form of assistance in broader and deeper culture farms. For the pullet carpet shell clam’s harvesting, they used specific artisanal shellfishing gear with specialized and traditional tools that act on the seabed by sieving the substrate while simultaneously making the first selection of sizes. In these culture farms, seeding for this clam species can occur throughout the year, although it is most active from March to early January, reaching its peak from spring until mid-summer.
The quality seal, Carril Clam of the Carril Shellfish Growers, guarantees not just the origin but also that the pullet carpet shell clam, the consumer acquires, has 40% less cholesterol than other clams of the same species. The latter occurs due to their growth in a particular environmental location, in waters whose unique characteristics generate their high-yield meat, flavor, and texture, setting them apart from the rest.
Carril Clams have only 7.05 Kcal per 100 grams of the product and, therefore, one of the shellfish recommended in low-calorie diets. Additionally, this bivalve is an excellent source of protein, and various minerals, such as phosphorus, sodium, iron, potassium, and calcium, as well as low cholesterol content.
Distinguishing this Species from Others
Besides its creamy color, yellow to brownish-coffee, the carpet shell clam has other distinguishing characteristics, such as the fragility, fineness, and smoothness of its shell. Additionally, it does not show radial lines and possesses long siphons joined for its full length. Another easily distinguishable characteristic is its morphology, which is visibly thinner and more elongated than the other clam species.
Even though it resembles the grooved carpet shell clam, the pullet carpet shell clam is smaller and has an annual cycle, besides lacking apparent radial striation, whereas the grooved carpet clam is larger and has a longer cycle.
It is worth noting that the Carril Clam exhibits a meat yield of up to 42% higher than other species grown in nearby areas. Additionally, the exceptional location where it is grown delivers the unique flavor and texture, setting it apart from the rest.