I must be missing California, because I’m craving clams steamed in garlic and white wine, cooked in a rich buttery-tasting broth, meant to be soaked up by some sourdough bread. Usually, my strongest craving is for a Seafood Louie, but this time it’s different. Of course, I can always make a little salad on the side with some shrimp on it, too. I guess this got started because I’ve been noticing the littleneck clams at the seafood counter at Whole Foods lately, and the fact that they’re well priced. So, guess what I’m cooking today?
I ended up with two pounds of the little guys, and guess what? They’re still alive! I feel like such a crazy-kine, cannibal-carnivore, though I do feel that fish of nearly any sort are made to be eaten. I’m making it anyway, because my craving is so strong, and I’m making this for two, though this recipe can easily be doubled to feed four. It’s a good thing all I’m craving is fish!! Haha!! Trust me, I’m just kidding about everything else, but I feel a bit funny about cooking a live animal. Without further ado on the social consequences of needing protein…
To make this for four you’ll need:
A really big pot, for starters~ one that will hold 5-6 quarts or thereabouts
4 pounds littleneck clams
2 tablespoons butter and/or olive oil (I like to use equal portions of both)
1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced or pressed garlic (I love my garlic press!)
1/2 cup of dry, (maybe more?) white wine~ chardonnay is good
1/2 cup bottled clam juice
1 tablespoon minced parsley
1 tablespoon chopped or snipped basil (I like to cut mine into thin strips with kitchen shears… they look nice and it’s easy)
Salt & pepper to taste
First you’ll need to scrub the clams under cold water with a brush to make sure that they are clean. If you have shells that are already open, tap them on a hard surface and if they don’t close, discard. Same goes with any broken or cracked shells.
Heat the olive oil and/or butter in the large pot and sauté the onion over low heat, until it becomes soft and translucent. I always let onion cook slowly because it comes out sweeter. Oh, and if you’re wondering why the butter in my photo has green flecks in it already, it’s because I bought some lovely, organic herb butter that was on sale. This looks like the perfect use for some of that.
Then, add the garlic and let that sauté with the onions just for a minute. You want to smell the fragrance, and at that point, add the wine and clam juice. Bring to a boil at high heat.
Once you get the liquids boiling, add the clams. Cover and steam until they open.
This shouldn’t take too long. Just before serving, add the minced parsley and basil. Gently stir into the mixture. By this time, your kitchen should smell like Monterey, CA. This is a good thing. Just the same, taste the broth and and some water, if needed. It can get quite intense, with the clams cooking in there. This is also a good time to adjust other seasonings, if necessary.
Discard any clams that didn’t open. Transfer them and the broth to serving bowls and serve with whatever kind of good French bread or sourdough that you can get. Good luck with that! Add a salad with a little shrimp or crab to make it complete. That’s California style, in the very best way. *sigh* I’ll get back there for a visit, one fine day.