For the November challenge in the Charleston Food & Wine Festival’s Lambs and Clams Recipe contest, we were given the option of cooking with either oysters, clams, or both! I was delighted to receive a shipment of 25 impeccable oysters and 25 beautiful clams from Rappahannock River Oysters in Virginia. For a guy that lives in Nashville, TN and doesn’t have that much access to the shore, I was ectastic about getting some seafood that was plucked fresh about a day and half before it got to my door.
I would have loved to make a “recipe” with oysters. Unfortunately, I didn’t have an oyster knife, and let’s just say I have very little experience opening them. So, I took them around to my various chef friends around town and shared them (read: got the pro’s to open them for me). The oysters were delicious with a nice saltiness that tasted of the ocean. To be honest, there was nothing that needed to go on those oysters. No lemon, no cocktail sauce, no mignonette. Eaten raw and shared amongst a few friends, it was perfect just the way it was. (And they all got finished before pictures were even attempted – sorry, folks!)
So then, I came home to the clams. To be honest, I rarely eat clams. It’s not because I don’t like them, it’s just I don’t come across them that much. And it’s a shame, because these clams were great. I remembered one of the first ways I ever had them was at a small Italian restaurants where they made linguine alla vongole (linguine with clams). It was a very simple dish – clams, lemon, wine, pasta, and a bunch of crushed chile flake. I knew I wanted to play around with that idea.
As I always try to do with the food I’m cooking, I try to introduce some of the Indian flavors I grew up with. Fresh green onions from my CSA were sauteed in butter with garlic, ginger, and jalapeno. The clams go into the pan (as do the noodles in a separate pot of boiling water), and are steamed with a mix of vermouth blanco, white wine, and a sprig of rosemary. After the clams are steamed, the meat is plucked from the shells and the cooking liquid is reduced until it becomes sauce consistency. Tossed with the freshly cooked pasta, the clams along with herbs, lemon zest, and fresh grated parmigiano become a heavenly meal – with subtle notes and aromatics that modernize this old classic dish.
If you are interested in recipes from all the other bloggers in this contest, check out the links below (being updated as posts come in):
David @ eat drink RI -
Linguine with Clams steamed in Ginger, Jalapeno, and Vermouth
8 cups of water
1.5 cups of salt
4 green onions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1 jalapeno, minced
1 cup of vermouth blanco (if you don't have this, feel free to substitute 1 cup wine)
1 cup of white wine
1 sprig of rosemary
1 lb. fresh linguine
1 lemon, zested
1 T chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
Combine the water and salt until the salt dissolves. Put all the clams in and let sit for 10 minutes. This will help purge the clams of any dirt. Remove the clams by lifting them out of the bowl. Discard the brine. Wash the clams and remove any dirt from the surface.
In a large saute pan over medium high heat, melt enough butter to coat the bottom of the pan (about 2 tablespoons). Saute the onion, garlic, ginger, and jalapeno until soft. Add the clams and toss with the aromatics. Add vermouth, white wine, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and cook until the clams start to open. Shut off the heat or the clams will overcook.
Remove the clam meat from all the shells and put in a prep bowl. Strain the broth into a pan over high heat and reduce until sauce consistency (make sure to taste as you don't want it to be too salty).
Cook the noodles until they are 3/4 of the way done. Strain, reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water. Add the pasta and the pasta water to the reduced clam juice and finish cooking the pasta. Add the clams, herbs, lemon zest, and crushed red pepper flakes and toss to combine. Serve in big bowls and garnish with grating of parmigiano reggiano.