As I said in my first post “The Experiment Begins”, I spent summers on the Cape during college and graduate school and worked at a restaurant called The Mooring. Those were fun times and I met some great friends, many of whom I am still in touch with to this day. It was during these years that my cooking skills began to develop. The Mooring menu included a dish called “Clam Soup”, which was a particular favorite of my father’s. Distinctly not chowder, which is cream based, the soup was more akin to a red sauce, but without the pasta and was served with a large chunk of garlic toast to soak up the juices. As I watched the cooks preparing the dish, I thought I could probably replicate it at home, so I took a stab at it. It might not have been perfect the first time, but all in all it was successful and and over the years I have tweaked it and over 30 years later it continues to be a favorite.
After making Clam Spaghetti with littlenecks from the local fish market, I was convinced that the ones from Island Creek Oysters were less salty, so I ordered up 100 of them with my weekly oyster order. We invited my parents over for oysters and clams, and I made a focaccia (actually 2, as I was bringing one to friends along with some oysters on Saturday). A Caesar Salad rounded out a light, delicious and satisfying meal. I think the proof is in the “Clean Plate Club”.
- 1/4 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 Medium Onion, finely chopped 1 cup
- 2 TBSP Garlic, minced 4 large cloves
- 1 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
- 1 1/2 tsp Basil dried
- 1 1/2 tsp Oregano dried
- 1 1/2 Cups White Wine
- 1 Can Chopped Tomatoes & Juices
- 48 Littleneck Clams about 4 pounds
- 1/4 Cup Chopped Flat Parsley 1/2 bunch
- 1/2 tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Sweat the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, pepper flakes, basil and oregano and cook for one minute, stirring constantly, until the garlic is fragrant but doesn't brown.
- Add the clams and white wine, cover and increase the heat to high to bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes until the clams just start to open.
- Add the tomatoes and their juice, 2 TBSP of the parsley, the pepper and stir to incorporate. Replace the cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes until the clams have fully opened.
- Place 12 clams in soup/pasta bowls and ladle the "soup" over. Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately with Rosemary Focaccia for dunking and a salad.
- Soak the clams in cold water for 15-30 minutes before cooking to allow them to release any sand.
- I don’t add salt, as I think the clams are naturally salty enough.
- Make sure to serve immediately after the clams have fully opened, as the clams will become rubbery if left to cook longer.
- Discard any clams that don’t open.
- Add more or less crushed pepper flakes depending on your palate for spice.