Kurils/Kunashir: Digging & Pigging Out on Surf Clams

As we drove along the coast on Kunashir, I saw a group of people with spades digging on the beach – apparently digging for clams. That sounded like an awesome adventure and the daily program was quickly altered to include low tide clam digging. If you thought oysters on Lake Busse in Sakhalin was an insane gastronomic experience – this was equally nuts! The clams are endemic Sakhalin Surf Clams aka Spisula – the largest surf clams in the world and are prized in Japan for sashimi on par with sea urchin. And here in Kuril Islands all you need is a spade and then dig pretty much anywhere at low tide and these massive clams are just a few inches deep in the black sand. Digging a bucket full of large clams and then washing them in a small river stream right on the beach, popping them open with a special clam knife, and eating right there with a splash of lemon – with a coastal panorama of volcanoes in sight – an amazing experience. The clams are meaty and juicy, almost like a breakfast meal. This was so incredible that we had to repeat it the next morning, pigging out of fresh raw spisulas like there was no tomorrow. No Michelin restaurant in the world could rival this!