Most cookbooks suggest that clams need to be cooked until they open, like mussels. Trouble is, by then they’re all but inedible. Just be sure you’re getting clams from a good supplier. The cooking-to-open business is about making sure you’re not eating dead clams. If your supplier is hot, you’ll have nothing to fear by tossing raw clams through a sauce, as below.
Whatever you do with clams, please don’t cook them too much. They need no more than a warming through, just like the best oysters. The extra flavours in this dish help bring out their majesty, and offer a few different textures along the way.
6 clams per person
4 spring onions, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
small piece of ginger, peeled and chopped finely
1 chilli, chopped finely
a little olive oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tomato, peeled and chopped roughly
1 sprig of rosemary
a little parsley, chopped roughly
juice of 1 lime (or lemon)
chives, chopped finely
Slice the clams open with a sharp knife, forcing them open. Be careful. (If you need to keep the clams for a couple of days, freeze them. You will find the freezing process causes them to open naturally. You can’t blame them for that.)
Cook the spring onion, garlic, ginger and chilli gently in the olive oil, until the spring onions have lost their lustre and softened – no more than a couple of minutes. Add the soy sauce and cook for another 30 seconds, working it all about.
Add the chopped tomato, rosemary and parsley and work around the pan, maintaining a gentle heat. Continue until the tomato has softened.
Add the sliced-open clams. Bring the sauce to a quick boil, and stir the clams through the sauce. Reduce the heat and cover, and maintain cooking for another minute. The clams should be just warm to the touch.
Serve with steamed rice and a little squeeze of lime juice on the clams, and a sprinkle of chives everywhere. Eat with your hands. Enough said.
WINE: You could always make a pot of Chinese tea here. Beer would be good too. You could try a traminer from Alsace or from one of Australia’s cool growing areas.