Summer and seafood. I dare you to think of a better duo. I’ll wait. (Plays Jeopardy theme song)
All jokes aside, I really love eating seafood once the weather gets warmer. Nothing beats the heat like some ice cold oysters and a nice glass of white wine. But this summer is looking a little different. We’re all stuck at home. Restaurants are doing take out and delivery though it doesn’t always work out. There have been too many lost drivers and took longer than necessary to get the food to us. I thought I wouldn’t be able to enjoy seafood this year but…
Some local seafood distributors have open their doors to the public! I made an order from ABS Seafood and picked up my haul on Friday; one day before the Pier 45 4-alarm fire broke out. ABS’s warehouse is fine. They just had to close for a week and hope to be operational by next Monday (check their website for updates). ABS Seafood has been serving the Bay Area since 1969. They were the first Japanese American company to sell western seafood at Tsukiji Market in Japan! Clearly, these guys know a thing or two about fresh seafood.
I ordered two pounds of fresh Manila clams from them. Two pounds is the perfect amount for dinner for two with some fresh baguette. Since we were already at Pier 45, I drove down the Embarcadero to Acme Bread and picked up a loaf of their rustic sweet baguette. I had everything I needed for an epic dinner now.
I know what you’re thinking: this sounds too easy. But it really is. You just need to know how to prep the clams before cooking and you’ll have a foolproof, delicious meal. Here are some of my clam tips that I learned through trial and error:
- Live clams are best eaten the same day. BUT! They can live for up to two days in the fridge. Do not put them in an enclosed container. I repeat, do not put them in an enclosed container. Clams are alive and need air. If you put them in an enclosed container, they will suffocate and die. Instead, I lay them on top of some damp paper towels and leave them in the fridge uncovered.
- Once you’re ready to cook, pick out the duds (better known as the dead ones). Any clams that are already open mean they’re dead – DO NOT EAT! Also pick out clams with broken shells. If the clam has a little tongue hanging out (that’s actually their foot), gently tap the clam on the counter. The tongue should retreat back if the clam is still alive within a few minutes.
- Sand in clams can kill the whole dish. Only do this step right before cooking! If you do this ahead of time, you can end up killing the clams. Fill a large bowl with cold tap water (not ice cold) and add at least a tablespoon of salt to the water. Gently place the clams into the water and leave them for 20 minutes. The clams will spit out any sand inside. Gently lift the clams out of the water one at a time – you don’t want to accidentally dump sand back into the clams. If there’s a lot of sand, and you’re concerned, you can repeat this step again. Sometimes I skip this step completely, especially if I’ve left the clams in the fridge for a day. They end up spitting up a lot of the sand overnight onto the damp paper towels.
- Clean the outside of the clams by lightly scrubbing the outside of the clams together under cold tap water. It helps loosen any grit and sand on the outside.
If you have a backyard, take your whole dish outside and enjoy it in the sun! Don’t forget to give yourself an extra large pour of white wine too.
Clams in Butter White Wine Sauce
- 2 pounds live clams
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 5-6 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley, minced
- Salt (depends on dish)
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Red chili flakes (optional)
- Step 1 Prep and clean clams. Set aside in a colander to drain excess water.
- Step 2 Heat up a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Add butter and garlic and toss for about 2 minutes until fragrant.
- Step 3 Deglaze with white wine and add clams. Cover skillet and allow to cook for about 5-10 minutes until clams have opened.
- Step 4 Toss in parsley and mix. As clams release salinity into the broth during the cooking process, taste the broth and adjust with salt as necessary. Add pepper and a pinch of red chili flakes (if using).
- Step 5 Serve hot with baguette.