To use a common phrase, I was as happy as a clam at high water when, in most unladylike fashion, I devoured my Clams with red pepper sauce the other day! Unfortunately for the clams, the waters receded and I became the beneficiary of their savory morsels…yes, I practically inhaled them. They were so fresh and delicious I had their delicate ocean nectar running down my arms!
I have been lacking in iron lately, and in my perusal of the internet, I discovered a wonderful fact: clams are loaded in iron (155% RDA), are very high in protein and low in calories! How convenient! I adore seafood in any shape or form and always order it in fine restaurants.
My fishmonger at HEB hand picked every clam for me. He made sure that they were all closed tightly. If by chance a clam is open when you are ready to cook it, gently rap it on the counter and if it doesn’t clam up(!) discard it – it’s dead.
In the absence of white wine, I found a great alternative – Mirin. Mirin is a sweet Japanese rice wine (used for cooking) which is low in alcohol and available in all grocery stores. It adds both sweet and salty tones to the sauce. I wouldn’t add salt until you’ve tasted the sauce at the end of the cooking process because the olives will also contribute to the saltiness of the sauce. The sweet red peppers will cook to velvety perfection, and the cilantro and lemon juice will brighten the flavors.
Steamed clams with red pepper sauce
Husby is not a clam eater so this was all mine!
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 tablespoons aji-mirin or dry white wine
freshly ground black pepper
12 live ‘littleneck’ clams, scrubbed clean. Discard any opened clams that don’t close when rapped on the counter top.
2 scallions (green onions), chopped crosswise
6 kalamata olives, sliced in half
about 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
a few drops of fresh lemon juice
In a medium sized saucepan, sauté the shallot and red pepper in butter and olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add mirin and do a few turns of the pepper mill and cook for one more minute. Reduce the heat to low.
Place clams on top of pepper mixture and cover tightly with a lid. Steam for 5 minutes.
Add the green onions, olives and cilantro. Steam for a couple more minutes then check the clams to see if they say aaahhh! If some of the clams have not opened, steam for a couple of minutes longer. Discard any clams that do not open. Finish with a few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Serve with crusty French bread to sop up the juices!