Clams Two Ways

Today March 31st, marks another food holiday worth celebrating, National Clams on the Half Shell day.  Whether you are enjoying clams casino, fried clams, clam chowder, clam bake, or just right from the half shell. The possibilities are endless. In this week’s article we will cover two recipes that are classic preparations for clams, but giving it a little lighter touch without taking away any of the flavor. First things first, you have to figure out which clams to use.

There are many different type of clams out there, and each one has its own culinary uses. There are a lot of confusing terms in the shell fish industry. Here is a list of the most common varieties that you can help you navigate the seafood isle for which clam to use in your next dish:

Quahogs

    • Hard shelled clam found in cold northern waters
    • Small Quahog Clams:
      • Littlenecks
      • Middlenecks
      • Topnecks
    • Large Quahog Clams:
      • Chowders
      • Cherrystones
    • Cooking methods:
      • Baking
      • Steaming
      • Stewing
      • Chowder
      • Smaller sizes eaten on the half shell
Steamers (Soft-shelled/Ipswich/Horse Clam)
Red tide soft-shell clam
  • Found in shallow waters in the Chesapeake, Maine, Massachusetts, and the entire Pacific coast
  • Lengthy gray, soft, and brittle shell
  • Sweet Flavor
  • Cooking methods:
    • Steaming
    • Breading and deep frying
Littlenecks (Manila)

  • Manila Clam was originally of Japanese Origin
  • The Littleneck Clam name came from the Little Neck Bay variety of Long Island, New York
  • Clean and sweet flavor
  • Hard-shelled clam
  • Found in the Pacific
  • Can grow up to 3 inches in length
  • Grayish-white shell with black markings
  • Cooking methods:
    • Baking
    • Steaming
    • Stews
Cherrystones

  • Size up from littlenecks
  • a little less tender than the littleneck
  • Comes from Cherrystone Creek, Virginia
  • 3-4 inches in size
  • Cooking methods:
    • Grilled
    • Half shell
    • Clams Casino
    • Pasta Sauce
    • Chowder
Mahogny Clams (Arctica Islandica, Black Clam, Black Quahog)

  • Hard shelled clam
  • Flavor composition similar to a quahog, but slightly stronger
  • A clam that has a distinct flavor that would not get lost in flavorful dishes
  • Dark brown shell
  • Mainly found off of the coast of Maine. Also found from Iceland to North Carolina.
  • Fun Fact: Can live for over 200 years
  • Cooking methods:
    • Eating off the half shell
    • In pastas
    • Steamed
    • Soups
    • Chowder
    • Grilled
Razor Clams (Atlantic Jackknife Clam)
Atlantic Razor Clam
Pacific Razor Clam
  • Hard-shelled Clams
  • Found in shallow waters along the East Coast, also on the Pacific Coast
  • The Atlantic variety is long and thin, resembles a razor with sharp edges. The Pacific variety looks like a stretched/elongated regular clam
  • The Atlantic Razor has a tougher neck portion and a tender belly like a steamer. The Pacific Razor clam meat tends to be on the tougher side, but full with flavor.
  • Storing out side of water tends to be an issue, it quickly dehydrates leaving the shell dry and brittle
  • Cooking methods:
    • Baking
    • Steaming
    • Stewing
    • Deep frying
    • Fritters
Cockles

  • Small
  • White and green shell
  • Commercially valuable in Asia, the US, and Europe
  • Large resource from British Columbia, Greenland, and Florida
  • Cooking methods:
    • Baking
    • Steaming
    • *Too small to be shucked
Geoduck Clam

  • The clam you seem to only see on the TV cooking shows
  • Hard-shelled clam
  • Found along the West Coast (also farm raised in the Pacific Northwest)
  • Can reach 9 inches in length and weigh about 10 lbs
  • The are usually marketed at 3-4 lbs
  • They are the largest clam found in North America
  • Grayish-white, ringed shell
  • The neck is exceptionally long in relation to its shell
  • Has a unique crips, crunchy texture and a mild, balanced shellfish flavor
  • Cooking methods:
    • Baking
    • Steaming
    • Sautéing
    • Fritters
    • Chowder
    • Sushi
    • Ceviche

Now that you have a better idea of the different varieties of clams and their culinary applications, we can now dive into the recipes for this week! I am going to show you two variates of cooking clams, both light dishes that are packed with flavor.

Before we start, a little tip on how to clean  the clams properly. To clean the clams cover them with fresh water and let them sit for at least 20 minutes. While they are in the water the clams will process the sand and grit out of their system on their own.

cleaning clams

cleaning clams

The steamed clams recipe is something that i picked up in banquets. Working in a kitchen that is primarily run by french culinary styled chefs tends to lean towards french ingredients and preparations. So ingredients like white wine, garlic, shallots, and butter play a huge role in a lot of their cuisine. In this dish I used the same principles to create, along with the natural liquor from the clams, a full flavored broth, that is just asking to be mopped up with a piece of sourdough bread.

The pasta dish was one that I learned at my time at the steakhouse. It is still one of my favorite specials that I have had he chance to make. It is so simple, but the flavors were so intense. The pasta was similar to what certain parts of Italy where they wouldn’t drown that pasta in a sauce, but let simple fresh ingredients shine. *Both of these recipes will call for a side of grilled lemons, grilling lemons makes them sweeter because of the caramelizing of their sugars during the cooking process. 

I hope you enjoy they as much as we do and remember to always #stayhungry

Steamed Clams with grilled French Baguette

Steamed Clams with Grilled Bread

Cut the lemons in half and the bread to desired thickness. Turn your grill on high.

cut baguettegrilling bread and lemons

Brush the bread on both sides with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper. Place the toast on one side and the lemon halves on the other. Grill until the lemons are fully caramelized and the bread toasted.

grilled baguettegrilled lemonsgrilled lemonsgrilled baguette

In a large sauce pot over medium heat, sauté the shallot, green onion and garlic with 2 tbsp of butter until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

sauted shallots with green onion

Add in the clams and sauté for another 5 minutes (getting the clams to release their liquids).

sauteing the clams

Deglaze the pan with the white wine and the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a rolling simmer and cover the pot, cook until all the clams open up. Stir occasionally.

white wine steamed clamssteamed clamsSteamed clams

Remove the pot from the heat. Add in the grilled lemon juice, butter and parsley.

Steamed Clams

Serve immediately with toasted or grilled sourdough bread.  Bon Appétit!

Steamed Clams with Grilled Bread

Linguini with clams

Linguine and Clams

Have a pot of heavily salted water going at a rapid boil for the pasta. If you are using fresh pasta it will only take a minute or two to cook, so we will cook it during the recipe. If you are using dried pasta give your self 7-9 minute for that pasta to cook.

fresh made pasta

Before cooking,  have the butter out to so it can soften.

In a food processor or a blender mix together the garlic, parsley, anchovy, basil, capers, shallot, lemon zest and olive oil until a paste resembling a pesto is made.

anchovy mixtureanchovy mixture

In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat with olive oil, sauté the cherry tomatoes. As they start to soften, using your spoon press them down to release their juices. The pectin in the tomatoes with help to thicken the sauce. Add in a pinch of red chili flakes.

Drop in your pasta

Fresh made pasta

Add the anchovy mixture to the tomatoes and continue to sauté. Be careful the mixture does have raw garlic and will burn if left unattended.

Anchovy mixture with clams

Add in clams and continue to sauté, giving it a few tosses. Deglaze the pan with white wine away from the fire, you do not want to flambé the ingredients.

Deglazing the clam mixture

 

When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the pan. Give the whole thing a few tosses to incorporate it. Season with salt and pepper.

Making the pasta for the Linguine and Clams

Add the butter at the end to glaze the pasta. You have to be careful that the heat isn’t too hot or the butter will separate. Give it a few tosses until the pasta is evenly coated.

Glazing the pasta with butter

Serve with fresh chopped parsley and a piece of grilled lemon.

Linguine and Clams

 

Print Recipe
Steamed Clams with Grilled Sourdough Bread BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list Yum
Steamed Clams with Grilled Bread
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Steamed Clams with Grilled Bread
Instructions
  1. In a large sauce pot over medium heat, sauté the shallot, green onion and garlic with 2 tbsp of butter until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the clams and sauté for another 5 minutes (getting the clams to release their liquids.
  3. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce to a rolling simmer, cook until all the clams open up. Stir occasionally.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat. Add in the grilled lemon juice, butter and parsley.
  5. Serve immediately with toasted or grilled sourdough bread. Bon Appétit!
Share this Recipe
Print Recipe
Fresh and Light Linguini With Clams BigOven - Save recipe or add to grocery list Yum
Lingine and Clams
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Anchovy Paste
Pasta
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Anchovy Paste
Pasta
Lingine and Clams
Instructions
Anchovy Mix
  1. In a food processor or a blender mix together the garlic, parsley, anchovy, basil, capers, shallot, lemon zest and olive oil until a paste resembling a pesto is made.
Pasta
  1. Shuck the clams and set the meat aside
  2. Have a pot of heavily salted water going at a rapid boil for the pasta. If you are using fresh pasta it will only take a minute or two to cook, so we will cook it during the recipe. If you are using dried pasta give your self 7-9 minute for that pasta to cook.
  3. In a large sauce pan over medium-high heat with olive oil, sauté the cherry tomatoes. As they start to soften, using your spoon press them down to release their juices. Add in a pinch of red chili flakes.
  4. Drop your pasta into the boiling slated water
  5. Add the anchovy mixture to the tomatoes and continue to sauté. Be careful the mixture does have raw garlic and will burn if left unattended.
  6. Deglaze the pan with white wine away from the fire, you do not want to flambé the ingredients.
  7. Add in clams and continue to sauté, giving it a few tosses.
  8. When the pasta is ready, drain it and add it to the pan. Give the whole thing a few tosses to incorporate it. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Add the butter at the end to glaze the pasta. You have to be careful that the heat isn't too hot or the butter will separate. Give it a few tosses until the pasta is evenly coated. Serve with fresh chopped parsley and a piece of grilled lemon.
Recipe Notes

* Smashing the tomatoes releases the pectin, which will help to thicken the sauce.

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I had so many great pictures from this article that it made I think really hard to just choose one for each section. So here are the rest of the pictures, enjoy! Hopefully they do their job and make you hungry!

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