This recipe for buttery garlicky Steamed Clams is both easy and totally delicious. As an added bonus, this dish is super low in calories.
Having lived in the Northwest where clams are abundant along the coast, I indulged often in this fabulous dish. Each restaurant served a little different version and the flavor varied on each one.
But my throw-down favorite of them all was at Georgie’s Beachside Grill in Newport, Oregon. This chef really knew how to cook. He knew that a Mirapoix was the only way to cook the superb broth for clams.
This combination of celery, carrots and onions is a long standing cooking technique in French cuisine and it always adds the perfect flavor to any soup or sauce. The secret is to cook the vegetables just until they soften which lends sweetness to the dish.
So after ordering these wonderful clams at least a half a dozen times at Georgie’s I finally asked the chef for the recipe and he was kind enough to send it to me. His name is Chef Alfredo Cacho and this is his original Steamed Clam recipe.
My version differs a little from his but the flavor is still absolutely fantastic.
Ingredients for Steamed Clams
- Steamed Clams: The star of the show
- Butter: For richness
- Garlic: What’s more soul satisfying than garlic butter?
- Celery: The first ingredient of a mirepoix…for flavor
- Onions: The second ingredient of a mirepoix…for depth of flavor
- Carrots: The final ingredient of a mirepoix…for sweetness
- Chicken broth: Adds a richer flavor
- White wine: For a delicious tang.There’s really no substitute for wine in this dish
- Pepper: For a slight kick
How to Make Steamed Clams
Most importantly, clams need to be scrubbed and cleaned. I’ve ordered Steamed Clams in Hawaii one time that were totally full of sand. If you never had Steamed Clams before you ate these, you’d never order them again thinking that’s the way they normally taste.
Gritty and awful.
And the thing is, there’s such a simple way to clean them. If you just let them soak in water with a little cornmeal for about an hour, they will naturally be clean. Then all you’ll have to do is either use a brush or do as I did and use a paper towel under running water. Simple and easy.
Next, just add some butter to a soup pot over medium heat. Once it begins to bubble add garlic, carrots, onions and celery and let it cook for about 3 minutes. For a good mirepoix, you’ll want it to soften, but not brown. Browning begins to caramelize them and that’s a totally different flavor.
Then just just add the clams, chicken broth, wine and pepper. Immediately cover the pot and allow the clams to steam for about 7-8 minutes. After that if you see any clams that have not opened, just discard them.
Finally, ladle the beautifully opened clams and the broth with the vegetables into serving bowls and top each with some chopped basil.
Be sure and serve this with a baguette to sop up the delicious broth.
Georgie’s actually serves theirs with a warm sliced baguette slathered with garlic butter. Perfection. And the only way to beat it is to eat this fabulous dish while you are glancing out their window at the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. And if you’re lucky you might spot a whale or two, which we have many times.
- First you need to clean the clams to remove the sand. The easiest way to clean clams is to add clams to a bowl and cover them with water by at least an inch or more. Then add about 3 Tbsp cornmeal to the bowl and let them soak for about an hour. They will essentially clean themselves. When time is up just brush each shell under running water to remove any extra sand that had not already been removed.
- Add butter to a soup pot over medium heat. Then add garlic, carrots, onions and celery and cook 3 minutes until slightly softened.
- Add clams to the pot along with chicken broth, wine and pepper. Cover the pot and allow the clams to steam 7-8 minutes. Discard any unopened clams.
- Ladle clams and broth along with the vegetables into serving bowls and top each with chopped basil.
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