This Past Week at La Domestique: Clams

Clams (c)2011

This past week at La Domestique was devoted to clams. Nothing beats fresh, sustainable seafood in the heat of summer. Clams combine beautifully with the produce in season right now: corn, chiles, tomatoes, fennel, etc. The recipes featured were summer cooking at its best- quick, simple, with beautiful flavor.

In case you missed anything, I’ve got a recap for you!

Monday:  Announcing clams as the ingredient of the week in videocast.

Tuesday:  10 Ways Tuesday! Creative ideas for cooking with clams during summer.

Wednesday:  Cook in the moment with a recipe for Clams in Fennel Broth.

Thursday:  The story behind clams: varieties, habitat, buying & storing, cooking & flavor pairing.

Friday:  A Spanish inspired happy hour with clams, crinkled potatoes, chorizo, and Albariño wine.

Thanks so much for reading!


A Spanish Inspired Happy Hour

My all time favorite episode of No Reservations is the one where Anthony Bourdain visits Spain in Season 4. During the trip he declares, “Outside of Asia, Spain is the single greatest place for culinary achievement in the world.” He made this statement after eating Spanish canned seafood. That’s right- shellfish from a can, people.

I love it. I find the idea of peeling open a can and enjoying a beautifully preserved clam very romantic. For me, it’s a simple pleasure. Nothing fussy. You don’t even need proper silverware. A toothpick will do the trick. Isn’t there saying about elegance being found in simplicity?

For the Spain episode Anthony visits Villa Sal de Mar, a seaside village about thirty minutes north of Barcelona. It is here that he finds some of the most expensive and delicious seafood in Spain- canned. The idea is that seafood only gets better in the can, marinating in its own marine juices. Great care is taken to make a very special product. You can find razor clams, cockles, octopus, tuna, and more treated this way and available in the United States. One brand I’ve had success with is Conservas de Cambados, made in Galicia, Spain. Don’t be afraid to experiment and give a few different producers a try. It’s surprising what you can find in local specialty shops. In the Denver area, I pick up Spanish canned seafood at the Truffle Cheese Shop.


Storyboard: Clams

Clam Storyboard (c)2011

I think we’ve taken clams for granted. They often play a supporting role in dishes to add visual and textural variety. A recipe for paella or fish stew might call for a handful of clams. However, clams are delicious in their own right. They’re also quick cooking, healthy, and flavorful. Reasonably priced clams are a great way to shake things up, adding variety to your cooking. Summer vegetables pair beautifully with clams. If you don’t typically cook clams, I urge you to get out there and try something new! Clams are best simply prepared, perfect for the lazy days of summer.

Aliza Green’s book, Starting with Ingredients, contains a whole chapter on clams. She writes that “clams are bivalve mollusks of various species that live buried in mud or sand.” Clams use a muscular foot to move around. The word “bivalve” refers to the clam’s two shells that are attached like a hinge with a ligament. Aliza reports that clams can live for more that 150 years!


Cook in the Moment: Clams in Fennel Broth

I know what you want right now in the heat of summer. You want something light, quick to cook, flavorful but simple. No problem! I find that my appetite can be stifled by the heat. The idea of stepping into my kitchen and sweating over a hot stove is not appealing. So, I came up with Clams in Fennel Broth. First, you can cook this in 20 minutes easily. Chop fennel and leek. Throw into pot. Add clams and simmer 10 minutes. Done. Second, Clams in Fennel Broth is light with a pure, seafood flavor. You can taste the clams, sweet and briny. They pair nicely with herbal fennel and buttery leek. Make sure to use the fennel fronds at the end- so important to the flavor! This week at the Boulder Farmers Market fennel was everywhere I looked, so we’re cooking in the moment here. It feels good.

I thought about adding pasta or crusty bread, but decided against it. When it’s this hot outside, you just don’t need anything more than a bit of seafood and some delicious broth to slurp. Glass of wine too, you’ll definitely need that.


10 Ways Tuesday: Clams

Clams (c)2011

I’ve got fresh ideas for cooking with clams during summer:


1.  Shellfish Platter

In Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook you’ll find instructions on composing a glorious Plateau de Fruits de Mer. It’s one of those grand seafood platters people order in restaurants, a true celebration of all the ocean has to offer. For me, it’s a jovial way to share a table with friends while drinking bubbles. A platter is filled with ice and seafood piled atop. Cooked crab, lobster, mussels, and shrimp are served alongside raw, shucked oysters and clams. A choice of sauces such as mignonette, cocktail, and aioli is placed on the table for dipping. Magnificent!

2.  Pizza

Every Friday night Proto’s Pizza in Boulder features a special of clam pizza. Mario Batali shares his take in Molto Gusto with a recipe for Pizza Vongole. Clams are cooked in a pot with olive oil, garlic, white wine and red pepper flakes. Then a pizza crust is topped with fresh mozzarella and baked. Once removed from the oven the pizza is topped with clams and plenty of fresh parsley.