Clams, the unassuming molluscs…..a palourde to the French, a vongola for the Italians and a almeja here in Spain. The unpretentious bivalve has been hanging around in world oceans for more than 500 million years with an incredible total number of living species at 9.200.
But, happy as a clam? I don’t think so folks………unfortunately for clams they have very long and dull lives…. ya must have done some serious bad shite to be reincarnated as a clam………….go with this good people, I’ve thought it through……….
Clams essentially live their lives buried into the sand where they feel safe and although they are filter feeders, they sadly tend to hold an unsavoury bottom feeder status. I imagine the human equivalent of a clams life would be an experience similar to being held captive in a small dark room with your eyes stapled open and having endless re runs of Eurovision wash over you for your entire lifetime……
And it doesn’t get better, the sex life as a clam is certainly nothing that would remotely go down in history as anything close to even slightly fascinating. Clams free spawn which is, to put it bluntly, both lady clams and boy clams just jizz into the surrounding water and let the currents and waves do the rest. Hardly even worth noting, really……
Lucky for us, and clams, I suppose, that they are a lot more fabulous when they are sitting in the galley sink and you are armed with some really heavenly recipes to make clams great again. Easy to cook and marry well with an assortment of flavours, clams can turn a simple stock into a spectacular feast.
Before you get down and dirty with clams you have to make sure you purge them of sand, to do this make sure you ditch any of the broken or damaged ones and pop them in a bowl and fill it with cool tap water. Let them sit for 20 minutes to an hour and you’ll have them spitting out the sand from inside their shells.
Now, personally I think Razor clams are rather fascinating, if you can just see past their appearance. Navajas are long and shlong shaped, sheathed in a sharp brittle shell that, not unsurprisingly resembles an old fashioned razor. Harvesting them can make for a jolly excursion, all you need is to be armed with a large bottle of salt and pour down keyhole shaped holes followed by some sea water in the sand at low tide. This will result in a slightly pornographic but impressive display, bringing the creature popping forth from the sand as if gasping for air…….. Then you
must brace yourself and grab it quite firmly and gently, no tugging as they are surprisingly strong. The flesh is sweet, juicy and just a little salty. Cooking quickly and seasoning well will reward you with sweet plump morsels with which to dazzle your guests.
Razor Clams with Garlic and Parsley
5 tablespoons extra virgin oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 – 4 chiles de arbol, crumbled
750gms razor clams, rinsed thoroughly
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Salt to taste
Heat oil, garlic and chilies in a 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan occasionally until the garlic is pale golden brown, about 6 minutes.
Increase the pan to high, add razor clams and wine, cook, covered until clams are just about cooked through – about 3 minutes.
Add parsley and season with salt. Toss razor clams to coat with sauce.
Transfer clams to a fabulous serving platter and drizzle with remaining sauce.
Cod Cheeks and Clams in Ginger, Lemongrass and Wakame Broth
with Pak Choi and Samphire
25g coarse sea salt
500g cod cheeks
500ml dashi – a Japanese stock
500ml fish stock
4cm knob fresh ginger, peeled and cut into julienne
2 stalk fresh lemongrass, trimmed and finely chopped
3 tablespoons dried wakame (seaweed), shredded
3 tablespoons extra virgin oil
2 spring onions, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
50ml dry white wine
200g baby pak choi, washed and halved
120g samphire, washed
Pour the dashi and the fish stock into a saucepan then add your ginger, lemongrass and dried wakame. Simmer for a few minutes and then leave in the broth to infuse over a gentle heat.
In a separate saucepan, heat the olive oil and cook the shallots and
garlic over a gentle heat until softened but not coloured. Add the clams, pour in the wine and stir well. Pop the lid on the pan and cook for 3 – 4 minutes until the clams have opened. Chuck any that haven’t opened.
Pour the cooking liquid into the warm stock and place the clams in a
clean bowl and keep warm.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and blanch the pak choi for 2 minutes.
Place the cod cheeks in the stock and remove the pan from the heat……..the fish will poach in the remaining heat.
Divide the samphire and pak choi between four bowls, add the clams and pour over the broth. Finally add the cod cheeks and garnish with lime wedges. An elegant and divine lunch.
Clams, Mussels and Chorizo with Fino and Aioli
Sourdough baguette, sliced lengthways into long slices
200g chopped chorizo – picante
4 large shallots
1 small chilli (optional)
4 cloves garlic, sliced
400ml fino sherry
sprigs of coriander
i medium egg yolk
3 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
100ml vegetable oil
75ml olive oil
Heat your oven to 180C (fan). To make aioli, blend the egg, garlic
cloves and white wine vinegar. With the blender running on a low
speed, drip in the vegetable oil, followed by the olive oil, slowly, allowing each addition to be incorporated into the egg mixture before adding more. Patience is the key! Season with salt and chill………
Drizzle the slices of baguette with olive oil and pop on a baking sheet in the oven until golden brown – 5 minutes each side.
Pop your chorizo, shallots, garlic, chilli and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pan and fry for a few minutes until soft.
Add the clams, mussels and fino; cover pan with it’s lid. Cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat, shaking occasionally.
Remove and toss any unopened clams or mussels. Add a glug of olive oil and the coriander. Season and serve
with the toasts.
Bring to the table and let everyone dig in, add a tablespoon of aioli to the broth or spread on the toast and dunk.
I highly recommend holding craft workshops in the galley with the clam shells, they will be no doubt inspired with the variety of ornaments they will be able to create. Clam shells can be stuck together to make tacky knickknacks like birds, cats and crabs, lovely souvenirs for them to remember you by…… just before they justifiably throw you overboard.
With any luck you’ll end up reincarnated as a clam.
Spreading the joy…..