Clams’ briny juices scream of the ocean, making them extra delicious in the summer. Here are seven ways to prepare them.
1. Raw. Yep, just like oysters, clams (if you can shuck them) are fantastic raw. Their sweet, pleasantly chewy flesh is especially delicious with cocktail sauce.
2. Steamed. Cooking clams in a pot is all about saving every last bit of that delicious briny liquid. If you add nothing more than butter and water, you’ll have a tasty dish. Sautéeing a little garlic first never hurts, nor does swapping the water for wine, beer or sake. Add plenty of herbs just before serving and eat. To really make the most of the juices, either toss the clams with pasta or serve with plenty of bread for dipping. And if you really want to gild the lily, add chorizo, sausage or salami. Or foie gras. Yes, you read that right.
3. Grilled. For the truly lazy: Throw clams directly on the grill and cook them until they pop open. What you lose in juice, you gain in a subtle smoky flavor. (Plus, you won’t even have a pot to wash). Serve grilled clams with a flavorful butter or a bright salsa verde.
4. Stuffed. This is a great way to cook clams for pickier eaters. After you steam the clams, top them with a flavorful bread crumb mixture and bake until crisp. You can also prepare tough, larger clams this way—just chop the clam meat and add it to the stuffing before returning them to the shell.
5. Salad. For a brilliant and unusual take on clams, steam them and then add them to a leafy salad. Reduce the briny liquid to use as part of your vinaigrette.
6. Soup. And, of course, let’s not forget chowdah. Make the classic New England-style, potato-rich soup or try a California take on it with beans and butternut squash. Regardless of which soup you make, it’s usually easiest to steam the clams first (which you should chop if they’re large) and add them along with their liquid just before serving.
Kristin Donnelly is a former Food & Wine editor and author of the forthcoming The Modern Potluck (Clarkson Potter, 2016). She is also the cofounder of Stewart & Claire, an all-natural line of lip balms made in Brooklyn.