Steamed littleneck clams have always had a special place in my fiancé’s heart (and shortly after, mine as well). Our first few dates included Bill trying to impress me by cooking dinner for me in his corner of the street apartment which was arguably located in one of the worst areas of the city. Not only was my car unsafe in the lot across the street, but also his apartment was full of heat in the summer with little ventilation and cooking in the kitchen on the third floor wasn’t the best idea in the 80 degree weather.
Aside from those facts, a home cooked meal after a long day of working and commuting sounded fantastic. It was a surprise dinner, so I had no idea what was cooking in his cranium. I finally hopped up countless flights of stairs to see shelled creatures on the counter. At this point in my life, the closest I had gotten to “seafood” was the occasional shrimp cocktail (drenched in red horseradish sauce), california sushi rolls (with faux crab), and steamed crab legs (immersed in clarified butter).
I was trying equally as hard to impress Bill at this point in our relationship, so I played it cool in the piping hot kitchen. While trying to hold back sweat, I watched in awe as the little clams popped open in the boozy bubbling broth. From that day on, it was love at first bite. Our first littleneck experience together marked a monumental moment for me in which I really enjoyed testing different flavors by using an array of various wines, pastes, and spices to create the perfect broth.
Follow along to see our latest favorite created in our own home this Sunday afternoon…
- 2 Dozen Local (Matunuck) Littleneck Clams
- 2 Tbsp Mediterranean Butter
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 2 Cups White Wine
- 1 Tsp Red Curry Paste
- 10 Fresh Parsley Leaves
- When cooking any meal in our house, we start by visiting the local farmers market. Our favorite outdoor market to visit in the summertime is the Hope Street Farmers Market. On Saturday morning, I was able to pick up fresh littlenecks from Matunuck Oyster Bar, which is also where we celebrated our engagement dinner!
- The most important step to any successful shellfish feast is proper cleaning of the chosen crustacean. This includes soaking the clams in an ice bath for an hour prior to cooking. Use a large enough bowl that allows each clam to be fully covered. This will cause extra salt, sand, and dirt particles to fall off the shell.
- Once bath time is complete, use a wood scrubber (or some other kind of scrubbing tool with bristles) to really get into the hard-to-clean crevices of the shell.
4. Place the cleaned clams on a plate to prepare for their next dive.
5. Locate the other ingredients that will make your broth taste out of this ocean (see what I did there?)! I chose a fresh clove of garlic, curly parsley from our backyard garden, thai red curry paste, white wine, and Butter Cuisine‘s delicious mediterranean butter from the local farmers market. This butter is packed with flavor boosting elements such as cream, olive oil, roasted garlic, kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, capers, grated parmesan, basil, sea salt and vinegar. The addition of the mediterranean butter allowed the use of only a few extra ingredients which is great if you do not keep many different herbs or vegetables in the house.
6. Use 2 tablespoons of the mediterranean butter and heat in a large stainless steel pot over medium heat. It is important to make sure the stainless steel pot that you are using is more wide than it is deep, since you are just steaming the clams and the liquids will not be splashing out at you. Plus, the wider the pot, the more clams you can cook at a time! With that said, make sure the lid is within quick grabbing distance.
7. Once the butter is liquified, mince the clove of garlic and allow it to simmer for two minutes before adding the wine.
8. Add the white wine to the pot and then top it with some fresh cut parsley. The more you chop the parsley prior to dropping it in the broth, the more the flavor will come out.
9. Add enough littlenecks to the pot where they have enough space to be pulled out one at a time. Once they start opening up, they will take up more room and will need to be removed promptly. I was able to squeeze in 18/24 clams. Place the lid on the pot and make sure they are at a steady simmer.
10. When the clams pop open, place them in another bowl while keeping as much broth in the pot as you can since that is what is cooking them.
11. Try your best to keep track of how long the clams have been in the pot for. The sad truth is that not all clams will be perfect. You will have to discard clams with cracked shells as well as clams that do not open up on their own, since they did not cook properly and may be unsafe to consume.
12. Once half of the clams are opened, add the remaining clams to the simmering hot tub and watch closely for their hatching.
13. Finish your dish by adding your favorite final starchy component such as a form of rice, pasta, or bread. For this meal, I made a coconut brown rice and Bill made his favorite baguette out of fresh dough from Zaccagnini’s Pastry Shoppe down the street.
I hope you were able to soak up every last bit of broth in your bowl! Let me know if you enjoyed this recipe for Savory Steamed Local Littlenecks and if you have any other great shellfish recipes to share this summer!