Steamed Clams in Tomato Wine Sauce, hosting wonderful flavors of white wine, cherry tomatoes, sauteed yellow and green onions, and a delicious vegetable stock, leaving these Nanaimo B.C. clams tender and so packed with slow steamed goodness, and having you savoring each morsel.
Steamed Clams in Tomato Wine Sauce, a classy and delectable bowl of pure deliciousness, from the broth infused with sauteed onions, herbs, and briny backdrops, to those tiny morsels of the ocean.
I can remember the first time having something that grazed the bottom of the ocean floor. There was a place called Café Select. I was with some clients with whom I was doing some interior design work. They had invited me for dinner and told me I had to try the mussels in white wine sauce. To tell you the truth I had never eaten a mussel. Thirty years old and never touched a mussel, sounds like a Tragically Hip song. I had some hesitance, but when I smelled the aroma coming from this pot, I had to rethink my reservation towards this type of seafood. I loved it, the rich sauce with its medley of garlic, onion, and herbs. The mussels, plump and delicious. I told my clients who were restaurant owners that I was very grateful that they had introduced me to such an exquisite dish. It came with some beautiful crusted bread, that I was continually dipping into that sauce. A wonderful memory and the beginning of a new journey into the realm of seafood.
Years later, after meeting Nicoletta, she introduced me to steamed clams, in Italian called vongole. In Italy, they are very popular tossed with spaghetti. We made a post about it, here. I have to tell you the first dish we ever eat when we arrive in Italy is Spaghetti con Vongole (spaghetti with clams), it is one of Nicoletta's favorites and has become one of mine, and Nicoletta's dad is very ready and willing to prepare it for her as he is happy she is home. I would have to say the clams in Italy are quite different, of course, it may be the fact that they come from the sea and saltwater. The ocean clams are bigger, more earthy and have that briny flavor to them. All the same very tasty steamed clams are, in a broth and eaten with some good bread, makes for a delicious meal.
Nicoletta and I, recently found out that St Albert, a city almost touching Edmonton on the north boundaries, has a winter market located in their City Hall. We were aware of the summer one which is always a great one to go to, but hearing this news had our market curiosity going and a Saturday morning trip planned. We noticed a seafood vendor Effing Seafoods, known for its fresh, delicious, sustainable Canadian seafood. The truck is at most of Edmonton's markets, and we had spoken to him the previous week at La Cité Francophone Market located in the french University Campus St. Jean and we bought some great cod fillets. Today he had some fresh clams from Nanaimo, British Columbia, located on Vancouver Island, and a hub for fresh seafood, so we thought okay let's give them a try. Nicoletta is always unsure, as we are not close to any ocean but they are flown in and she is curious to taste them, so we are both in.
Let's get crackin'
The way I like to cook is to get everything at hands reach, so you will need:
- Fresh, sustainable, clams, whatever you can find
- Yellow onion and green onion minced
- Garlic minced
- Cherry tomatoes halved
- Butter and olive oil
- Fresh flat leaf parsley chopped
- Dried thyme
- Vegetable stock
- Lemon juice
- White wine
- Salt and pepper
The prep goes something like this: first, soak the clams in some sea salt water, then wash them and scrub them with cold water till no sand remains in the water. If any clams are open don't use them, they are no good. In a pot add the clams and some new salted water and steam them for a bit till the shells start to open. Take the clams out with some tongs and set them aside. Save ½ cup of the clam juice and strain it to make sure no sand gets through. Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter and olive oil. Some people ask why put both? Well, the flavors are wonderful together and the olive oil helps the butter not to burn. It forms a protective pool around the butter keeping the temperature just right. In the next step, toss in the cherry tomatoes, thyme, clams, some parsley, and stir well getting all those flavors infused into the clams. Pour in the lemon juice, white wine, clam juice, and vegetable stock. Some seasoning of salt and pepper and let it steam on low to medium heat for a while. Get some nice crusty rustic bread and warm it up in the oven a bit. Scoop out some clams and sauce into a bowl, and get ready to enjoy these steamed clams. If there are clams that have not opened throw them out too, they are no good also.
The beauty of this dish is evident with the effervescent and crimson colors of the clams. Those cherry tomatoes adding a nice spark of color along with the flat-leaf parsley. The flavors amazing, the broth rich in acidity and warmth, as the sweetness of the onion, the garlic, and the tartness of the lemon soothe each other in that delectable white wine and vegetable broth bath, inebriating the steamed clams in its potency. The bread, a great tool to gather up all those juices and into your mouth it goes, makes my mouth water, just thinking about it, and let's not forget the star of this show, those plump, juicy, briny morsels, reminding us how beautiful these earths waters are and how much it has to offer us with its gems, one that I think of with deep gratitude and respect.
I love scooping up some of the juice with the clamshell and slurping away all that goodness and even the shells that have lost the clam are slurped as well. I don't want to miss a thing. The blessing is another shell has picked up the lost clam and I say double the flavor, double the fun!
If you are looking for a recipe that is luxurious, exquisite and enjoyable to eat, this is just that. In Italy Christmas Eve is celebrated with a feast of fish and seafood, as meat is never on the menu that night. This would be a welcome dish for this occasion. Or, it would be great for one of those romantic dinners that every couple deserves, to sit back and relax with a chilled glass of white wine, vibing to today's song and a bowl of this delicious Steamed Clams in Tomato Wine Sauce. Don't forget the bread!