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New Year’s resolution: Eat more fish … and clams

Posted: January 8, 2013 - 3:57pm  |  Updated: January 9, 2013 - 9:10am

One of the greatest joys of living in the lowcountry of South Carolina is the availability of fresh, local seafood all year long. Whether you fish yourself, of rely on the hard work of others to get your fill, it’s not hard to get hold of nutritious, flavorful seafood – including shellfish such as clams. With Capt. Mike’s Bluewater Seafood store, on Highway 170, in Okatie, offering fresh littleneck clams at just $4 a dozen, clam lovers can dig into some good clam dishes, whether their preference for clams is steamed or baked, or broiled or fried. Even eaten raw, clams are a shellfish lover’s delight, as long as the clams are fresh, live and cleaned well. When choosing clams, select only those that are not broken, cracked or have damaged shells. Also, avoid purchasing clams that are not tightly closed, or do not close when lightly tapped, as they are likely dead. (A live clam will have its shell tightly shut, or if it’s slightly open, will shut when tapped.) Once you get your clams home, store them in the refrigerator for up to three days in an open container loosely covered with a damp towel. (Live clams need to breathe, so give them breathing room – do not store them on ice or in a sealed plastic bag.) When you are ready to eat or cook your clams, clean them thoroughly by covering them in cold water in a clean basin. Changing the water two or three times, allow clams to soak for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, scrub the clams with a stiff brush under cold running water to remove any remaining grit. (If any of the clams open, tap on it – should the clam not close, discard it.) If one of your resolutions for the New Year is to eat more fish – or shellfish – now’s the time to begin and a platter of baked Clams Casino (recipe follows) is a delicious place to start.

Clams Casino

12 medium-sized littleneck clams

2 tablespoon unsalted butter

3 strips thick bacon, each sliced into 4 equal pieces (12 total)

1/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper

2 tablespoons minced shallots

3 garlic cloves, finely minced

1/2 cup soft breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

¼ teaspoon dried oregano

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch salt

Lemon wedges, for serving

Rock salt*

 

Open clams; remove clams from shell. Wash shells, then place each clam in deep half of shell. (Discard the rest of the clam shells.) Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the bacon and sauté until bacon is cooked, but not crispy. Remove bacon from skillet with a slotted spoon, and reserve. Add the red pepper to the bacon drippings in the skillet, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the shallot and garlic and continue to cook until soft. Remove skillet from heat, mixing in the breadcrumbs, 1 tablespoon of the cheese, parsley, oregano, pepper and salt. Spoon the breadcrumb mixture atop the clams, dividing equally and mounding slightly. Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan. Spread rock salt onto the bottom of an ovenproof baking dish, and set the clams on top of the salt, pressing down slightly. (The rock salt helps to hold the clams steady while they are baked.) Bake in preheated 425-degree oven for 10 minutes, then top with bacon, and bake 5 minutes more, or until bacon is crisped. Serve hot with lemon wedges. Makes 2 servings. *Kitchen Ade Note: For the purposes of this recipe, Morton’s Rock Salt (Ice Cream Salt) was used was used for lining the baking dish. Look for Ice Cream Salt at the market on the aisle where regular table salt is stocked.

Bow Tie Pasta with Whole Clam Sauce

2 dozen well-scrubbed little neck clams

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 (35-ounce) cans peeled, Italian plum tomatoes, squeezed with your hands to crush

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

½ cup white wine

4 whole fresh basil leaves

6 tablespoons chopped parsley

Salt

½ pound bow tie pasta, cooked al dente

 

Heat oil with butter in a large saucepot, over medium heat. Add the garlic, cooking until soft. (Do not allow garlic to brown.) Add 3 tablespoons of the parsley to the pot, stirring until the parsley is well coated with the oil/butter/garlic mixture. (The step will help the parsley to remain green after the tomatoes are added to the pot.) Add the tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, wine and basil leaves, simmering (uncovered) for 25 minutes. Season to taste, with salt and pepper. Add clams, cover, cooking for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until clams have opened. (Discard any clams that do not open.) Remove basil from sauce, then pour sauce, with clams, over cooked pasta, garnishing with remaining parsley. Serves 4.

 

Mussels and Clams Steamed in Wine, Butter and Garlic

3 dozen mussels (rinsed, cleaned and de-bearded)

3 dozen littleneck clams (rinsed and cleaned)

½ cup butter

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots

1½ cups dry white wine

2 tablespoons lemon juice

½ cup chopped parsley, divided

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

Crusty French bread, for serving

 

In a large kettle, over medium heat, melt butter. Add garlic and shallots and sauté until soft, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add wine, lemon juice, half of the parsley and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add mussels and clams and cook, covered, about 10 minutes (shaking pot frequently), or until shells open and mussels are cooked. (Unlike clams, which are completely cooked when their shells open, mussel shells will open before the mussels are fully cooked.) Discard any clams or mussels that do not open, then transfer clams and mussels, with cooking liquid, to a large shallow serving dish, sprinkling remaining parsley over all. Serve with crusty bread. Serves 3 to 4 as a main course, or 6, as an appetizer.

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BigRedDog
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BigRedDog 01/14/13 - 06:28 am
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check the mercury

really, it's time to watch the mercury levels in ALL seafood.

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