We love clams in this house. Like, lurrvvveeee clams. They remind me of my dad – who worked as a clammer in his past life, before being swept away by the casino industry. They remind me of my friends and of the long summer days when we leave the beach and head out for a “no shower clam hour.” And clams totally remind me of my childhood. No summer party was complete without a big bowl of steamers, along side a big bowl of lemon wedges and another big bowl of melted butter.
Clams are an acquired taste. Salty and chewy – but if cooked right, not too chewy – and they go down oh-so-well with a cold beer on a hot day. Or a glass of crisp white wine. Or with a shot glass full of drawn butter… That’s how we roll over here in Brigantine. Clams are fairly inexpensive compared to other shellfish (I’m lookin’ at you lobster), and the leftover shells can be kept for crafts or adding calcium to the garden. But best of all, clams are totally sustainable, meaning they can be caught in the wild or farm raised in a way that doesn’t harm the environment or the future of the species. This is really important.
And speaking of sustainability, I’m heading out next week to one of my favorite cities – New Orleans! – for the Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference. I’m beyond stoked to meet all the other amazing bloggers coming out to attend, and to learn more about ocean conservation and overall sustainable kitchen practices. Also, to eat all of the food in New Orleans (duh). There are still a few tickets left, so if you’re free June 26-28th, come out and hang with us!
This clam recipe is a summertime staple. Spicy, meaty chorizo sets the stage for a broth built on shallots, white wine and the salty liquor that’s released from the clams as they cook. We add in charred sweet corn for an extra layer of flavor and texture, some fresh cilantro for lemony brightness, and of course, a little bit of butter to smooth everything out.
In the summer, all the bars and restaurants around here advertise the “no shower happy hour,” encouraging folks to hop right off the beach, ignore all hygiene and just start throwing back beers. I’m into it. But add a big bowl of steamed clams to the mix, and I’m really into it. Getting dressed up for dinner is seriously overrated.
There’s just something indescribably special about feeling the dried up ocean salt on your skin, breathing in the salt air and sitting down with friends for a nosh on some salty clams. Salt makes everything better, and just thinking about it makes me smile.
Here’s another clam recipe from a a few years back, inspired by my favorite New Orleans dish, BBQ Shrimp: New Orleans Inspired BBQ Clams
Here’s another tasty lil recipe using Spanish chorizo: Spanish Kale Salad
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 3 ounces Spanish chorizo*, diced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 25 littleneck clams, cleaned*
- 1 1/2 cups charred, grilled corn that's been removed from the cob (from about 1-2 ears)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold***
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep saute pan over medium-high heat and add in the chorizo. Cook, stirring continuously, until it renders out it's fat and begins to crisp up. Add in the shallots and cook for about 1 minute, until they've softened.
- Deglaze the pan with white wine, and add in the clams. Toss to coat, then cover the pan and let cook for about 5-8 minutes, until the clams start to open up.
- Remove opened clams to a serving dish, and discard any that don't open (but give them a minute! some just take longer). Add the corn to the pan, stir it around, then turn off the heat. Add the butter one piece at a time, stirring constantly, until it's all melted. Pour the sauce over the clams and top with cilantro. Serve immediately.
- *This recipe uses Spanish chorizo, which is cured like salami, as opposed to Mexican chorizo, which is a raw type of sausage. I don't recommend substituting for Mexican chorizo. If you can't find Spanish chorizo, substitute sopresata or another spicy salami, along with 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika.
- *Be sure to clean the clams thoroughly before cooking by soaking them in COLD water and then giving them each a scrub.
- *This recipe does not include any salt, and using unsalted butter is very important. The clams have a lot of salt, as does the chorizo, and the flavor concentrates as it cooks down. The flavor is very salty as is, so be mindful not to use salted butter as it will throw the whole thing overboard. It's also important that the butter is cold so that it doesn't break when you add it to the sauce.