A dish that is as beautiful to look as it is to eat, Italian-styled steamed clams have to my dinner party starter staple. While some of the only clams indigenous to South Africa are our white sand mussels, these little molluscs are imported from Italy where they occur naturally in tidal lagoons and estuaries.
I recently had the pleasure of shooting stock imagery for new online seafood site Fresh Catch Deli and so had a few of their excellent clams at hand. Ranging in colour from creamy ecru to chocolate brown, Italian clams are renowned for their vibrant striped patterns and colours of their shells. Containing only a tiny mouthful of meat in each, it’s best to enjoy clams alongside a dish of steaming spaghetti or a loaf of crusty bread so as to better satiate one’s appetite.
For this recipe, I paired my clams with the latter so as to better mop up the decadently buttery sauce I made to go with them. Serve the clams as a starter or simply double or triple the amount to make more of a meal.
Italian-style Steamed Clams
Prep time: 10 mins /Cook time: 10mins /Serves: 2
You will need:
- 500g of frozen Italian clams, defrosted
- 3 leeks, rinsed and finely sliced
- 250ml fresh cream
- 100ml dry white wine
- 30ml butter, for frying
- 50g finely grated Parmesan
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- Coarse ground sea salt and black pepper
- Fresh dill
- Olive oil
Place a lidded casserole over medium heat and sauté the leeks in the butter until translucent. Deglaze the dish with the white wine then reduce the liquid by half. Add the cream and the crushed garlic then scatter in the Parmesan cheese and stir to combine. Season to taste, with minimal salt. Once the sauce has thickened to a creamy consistency, add in the clams. The natural liquor from the clams will loosen up the sauce. Cover the dish with it’s lid and steam for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until all the clams have opened – being sure to discard any that haven’t.
Scatter a few fronds of dill over the top of the dish, drizzle with a little olive oil and serve the clams immediately with lemon wedges and fresh bread.