20 September 2013

From the Chef ~ Things to Do With Clams

We have an abundance of tasty bivalves just ready for savoring here in the Pacific Northwest.  So get out there, dig some clams, pick some up at one of our fine local seafood purveyors, and enjoy these recipes below!

Horse Clam or Geoduck Sashimi 

We unearthed several horse clams on Vashon this summer, and my, was it worth the effort!  We've poked and prodded for a squirt and wondered at resided below for years.  Little did we know that we had not geoducks, but horse clams, a smaller cousin (a big one can still weigh a couple of pounds) that sits only 12-24 inches below the surface and can live for over 150 years.  These are fantastic in chowder and especially awesome when served raw as an antipasta or as sashimi.

Click on the link below and follow the instructions in this video for cleaning and preparing these giant bivalves - it's easy.  There's a sashimi and a fritter recipe, and the chef does a fine job in his presentation.  You will absolutely love this preparation!  The flesh is firm and crisp but not chewy, and has a sweet, clean flavor of the sea.  I enjoy it with a drizzle of good olive oil, a touch of salt, and a squeeze of lemon.  Soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger are also nice accompaniments.

Best Clam Chowder
Published in Casa Fiore July-September, 2013

We have all the makings of a great clam chowder right here in the Great Northwest.  And if you find a beach with clams, you can dig your own.  On a recent trip to Vashon, I made a delicious chowder with the clams you see above—cockles on the left and a big ol’ horse clam on the right.  The cockles were easy to find; they seemed to have popped themselves out of the sand just begging to be collected.  Horse clams, though not nearly as deep and difficult as their geoduck big cousins, require a low tide, a good deal of shoveling, and the willingness to get drenched in sandy saltwater, all efforts well worth undertaking!

1. Slice 3 strips of bacon into 1/2” pieces and fry until browned but not crisp. Set aside. Add 1 tbsp. butter to the pan and sauté 1 cup each finely chopped onion and thinly sliced celery until translucent. Optional:  add 1/2 cup medium chopped red pepper for color and added flavor.

2. Add 2 cups cream and 4 cups fish stock. Whenever possible, I make my own from fish trimmings and onerous crab legs. Add 1.5-2 cups chopped raw or lightly steamed clams (if steamed, reserve clam juice and use as stock), 2 cups parboiled and diced potatoes, salt and ground pepper to taste, 2 bay leaf, and a pinch of nutmeg. Bring to a low simmer, cook for ten minutes, and eat when ready.

Aunt De's Baked Clams on the Half Shell
This is a scrumptuous preparation and a tradition at our big, Italian Christmas Eve party!  Scroll down to my January 19, 2012 post, and this will become your new-favorite recipe.