Monday, August 11, 2008

Happy like a clam.....

As big of a food snob as I am, (this is my new name at work), I haven't been culinarily adventurous in my life. I haven't had true lobster, brussel sprout, oysters, uni, beet, and many other foods that never crossed the table. Why?
One most of my family doesn't like seafood, which is sad because they are missing out, but that means more for little old me!
Two, I don't know if my parents even like most of them, and I wasn't a kid who would go out of there way to try a new food until college. So... that means I have a lot of making up to do.
Of course, I began this catch up maybe a year or two ago, but I'm still behind. I only just tried mussels for the first time a month ago, and now I can scratch clams of my list.
Oh, I'll admit, I had this once before in Alabama with the ex, but they were on his plate not mine. So I'm not counting that. You can if you wish, but I'm not.
Clams aren't that hard to find in N.C. most seafood markets I visit have them that was the easy part. And I knew that clams in a white wine sauce was popular, so at least I had an idea of a cooking method.
On Saturday, I traveled north to Virginia Beach to go to the Old Beach Farmer's Market. The market is off of Cypress right as 264 turns into a road. It has 9 vendors, all local and I believe all organic. I felt like I was back in Austin. It was small, but had that vibe. I can't describe it well, but I hope you know what I'm talkin' about.
And to my surprise they had clams. The clams were came in 25/50/100. I chose the 25 and paid the vendor. No going back, I had them. I spent the money. It was a sink or swim now.
Of course I didn't go straight home. I made trip to Trader Joe's, the bookstore, and Macy's. I had to get my coffee grinder, o.k.? At each stop, I think to myself, I'm going to kill my clams. By the time I got home 5 hours later, I had a sinking feeling they were dead.
But I wouldn't know until I cooked them. So I found a recipe, opened a bottle of wine and followed the instructions. Five minutes of steaming and some mouths were open, but not all.
My stomach sunk. I killed the clams. I wouldn't be having dinner. I would starve. So I opened my Joy of Cooking to find that they can be steamed for 5-10 mins. So, I reheated them and sure enough a couple of minutes later they were all open.
I hadn't killed them in the car, which was a relief. Plus, they didn't scream in the pot. I liked them enough, but am a bigger fan of mussels. Not to say that I won't cook them, again. Because next time they will have a shorter joy ride.

Clams with garlic and roasted tomatoes
(adapted from Heart of New England)

24 littleneck clams
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup roasted tomatoes

½ cup dry white wine, such a Sauvignon Blanc
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dried oregano or marjoram
Freshly ground black pepper

Place clams into a strainer and shake under running water to remove loose shell debris.

Heat a large sauté or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, oregano, and garlic and cook, stirring, until garlic starts to color. Add wine and bring to a boil, then add clams and tomatoes. Raise heat to high, cover pan and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until clams are opened (5-10 minutes). Discard unopened clams.

Serve immediately with the sauce. A salad and crusty bread for the sauce completes the meal.


matt wright said...

I just love clams. Mussels too. One of my most perfect meals is these steamed open in a litle white wine, butter, shallots and herbs.

Emiline said...

I've been wanting to try clams! I think I might have had them before, but it's been a long time.

Antonio Tahhan said...

aw, you do have lots of catching up, but I wouldn't mind catching up when it comes to seafood!

Manggy said...

I think there's something better than either clams or mussels-- clams AND mussels together! I'm glad you discovered the joys of shellfish! I think my brother has never had a single one, and he's almost 30.

Vera said...

One of my favorite food!