Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Best Recipe for Steamer Clams

The Best Recipe for Steamer Clams
1 to 4 servings (depending upon appetites!)
As shared from Once Upon a Plate by Mari

For this dish, I like to find the smallest clams available in the market. These shown are Venus clams, farmed in the cold waters of Baja Mexico ~ they are a sustainable crop and generally available year round where I live.

Here's what you need to make the BEST steamed clams you've ever tasted:

about 40 live, fresh steamer clams
dry white wine
1/2 cup (a stick) butter, more if you are steaming a lot of clams
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1 to 6 cloves fresh, minced garlic (not the stuff from the jar) 
some finely chopped fresh parsley
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
a bay leaf or two

To finish:
a generous shower of chopped fresh parsley
lemon wedges
1/4 cup chives, thinly sliced crosswise
freshly cracked black pepper (optional) 

Method: After allowing the clams to purge themselves of any sediment* , rinse them in fresh water, cleaning the shells of any sand, discard any with cracked or broken shells. Put the them in a pot (large enough to allow for some expansion, as the shells pop open they will take up more space), pour the wine over them**, enough to just barely cover them add the butter, onion, garlic, thyme, and parsley. Cover the pot and bring to a boil until the clams pop open (usually about 5 minutes.)

Discard any clams that have not popped open after cooking ~ but check out this
TIP I recently learned from a seafood cook:  When the clams have cooked, you may find a couple that don't pop open; using tongs remove the open clams and shells then cover the pot and boil for another 3 to 5 minutes. Check the remaining clams, and you may be surprised that some stubborn ones have now popped open. But again, discard any that don't open upon the 2nd round of cooking. 

To serve: Sprinkle the remaining finely chopped parsley over the cooked clams.
Ladle cooked clams into bowls with some nectar (broth), and serve with
crusty sourdough or French bread for dipping up the broth.
*To purge the clams of any sand that might be present: soak them overnight, or at least for a few hours in a pot or bucket of cold salted water (1 Tablespoon salt to
2 quarts of water), they will die in fresh water. You may add a tablespoon or two of cornmeal to the water.  (This acts as an irritant & encourages the clams to
expel any grit, along with the cornmeal.) Discard any with cracked or broken shells, as well as those that don't close when rapped gently on a hard surface.

** No need to cover the clams completely with the wine, as those above the liquid level will steam cook, hence the name "steamers".


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