Simply the Best Clams Ever!
Did I just say the best clams EVER??? I did and I do! You will want these AMALFI CLAMS on your summer menus. Whether you offer them as a first course, appetizer, or main event, prepare yourself for the raves! In fact I highly recommend making twice a much as you planned. These are just that wonderful. This is truly a dish to remember.
The Amalfi coast is known for their phenomenal seafood and seafood preparations. The squid, the mussels, the crab, the clams, the cuttlefish and sea urchins – it is a treasure trove of wonder when one thinks of the bounty that comes from this area.The tiny clams, in particular, that they serve are tender and sweet.
In making the clams for this recipe, I highly recommend using Manila Clams or the small Littlenecks. You can use the larger ones but this dish is a little more delicate and I think better with the smaller clams. The clams will emit liquid, salt, and flavor. Therefore you will not see salt in the ingredients list. If you taste them, after cooking, and still think they need it – then add the salt – but this is one of those flavor experiences that is best created by the ingredients themselves. All you need to do is add them!
I would serve this dish anytime, but it just seems better in the heat of the summer when you let your senses drift to dreams of the gentle Amalfi breezes during this season. Simply taste the broth, and just float, as they say.
If you serve this one as a main course, I would suggest rice rather than pasta. This is such a delicate dish that pasta is almost too much for it. I especially love serving it, on its own, in bowls, as a first course or appetizer, with plenty of broth and a crusty grilled sliced of bread with olive oil. You need nothing else — unless of course, it is the remainder of that bottle of Prosecco you just used to make it!
Does the tiny bit of Sambuca make a difference and what is Sambuca doing in the dish anyway? Good question – who asked it? Oh! that was moi! The Sambuca gives it a slight edge. It is similar to the use of Pernod by the French in Bouillabaisse and by me in my Zuppa di Pesce! Without this little kick – it just isn’t the same – but please just a touch.
“Vieni sul mar,
vieni a vogar,
del tuo marinar.
(la – la la – la -la…)
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 16-18 minutes
2 dozen Fresh Littleneck Clams or Manila Clams
4 Tbsp. Butter
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Whole Shallot (usually a double bulb)
1 Cup Finely chopped Sweet Peppers – I like the mini peppers
1 Fennel Bulb – chopped
Dash Red Pepper flakes
2 Cloves Fresh Garlic chopped finely
Pinch of Saffron Threads
1 Cup Prosecco (or Cava or Champagne)
1-2 Tsp. Sambuca (or Pernod)
3 Tbsp. Chopped Fresh Italian Parsley
A generous squeeze of fresh Lemon
Some Fennel fronds for garnish – These are the fine and delicate greens that emanate from the fennel bulb. They smell wonderful and make a great garnish.
Scrub your clams lightly with a brush under some running water and set them aside in the refrigerator while you prepare. Do not seal them up as they are living things and need to breathe. Think about it – you wouldn’t want someone sealing you up in a ziploc bag until dinner time!
Melt your butter in the olive oil and add the peppers, shallots, fennel and red pepper flakes. Cook on Medium High about 5 minutes.
Add garlic and cook another minute being careful not to brown or burn the garlic.
Add your clams!
Crush the saffron threads with your fingers and add them to the Prosecco. Now pour the Prosecco and Sambuca into the pan.
Add the parsley and quickly cover the pan.
Simmer about 8-10 minutes. If your clams are large you may need a few more minutes. Make sure ALL the clams open, and discard any that do not. Larger clams might take a couple of minutes more.
Give a quick squeeze of the lemon.
There are two ways to serve the loveliness of these AMALFI CLAMS: Serve them piled high in a bowl with a large grilled slice of crusty bread brushed with olive oil OR you can serve them over rice. Either way – you will love them and serve them often as I do. There is simply no better summertime seafood dish than this one!
PARLA COME MANGI!
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