In culinary use, within the eastern coast of the USA, the term “clam” most often refers to the hard clam Mercenaria mercenaria. It may also refer to several other common edible species, such as the soft-shell clam, Mya arenaria, and the ocean quahog, Arctica islandica. Another species which is commercially exploited on the Atlantic Coast of the US is the surf clam Spisula solidissima.
Clams can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, baked or fried; the method of preparation depends partly on the size and species of the clam. They can also be made into clam chowder (a popular soup in the U.S. and Canada) or they can be cooked using hot rocks and seaweed in a New England clam bake.
Stuffed clams are also known as stuffies. They are popular in New England and consist of a breadcrumb and minced clam mixture that is baked on the half shell of a quahog hard shell clam. Other ingredients typically found in the basic breadcrumb mixture are: meat such as sausage, bacon or chorizo, peppers, lemon juice, celery, garlic, spices and herbs. There are many different recipes for stuffed clams; many restaurants in New England have their own variety, as do many home cooks.