Chef Richard Blais says he has an affinity for ’90s hip-hop, which is why he chose to name his Chinese-style clams after the Wa-Tang Clan. Incorporating sesame oil, ginger, Chinese pork sausages and bok choy, this is the be-all, end-all of clam dishes.
Clam-and-Oyster Pan Roast
This brothy, aromatic seafood dish from chef Vivian Howard of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, North Carolina, weaves steamed clams with traditional New Orleans creamed oysters. It's hearty but not heavy, and the winter greens make it a full meal. Crusty bread is a must for sopping up the coveted broth.
John Besh and Chris Lusk's lighter interpretation of the classic New Orleans baked crab dish adds brightness with lemon juice and Dijon mustard.
Manila Clams with Hot Soppressata and Sweet Vermouth
Habetz adopted the southern Mediterranean style of pairing spicy cured meats and shellfish while working with chef Mark Ladner at Lupa in Manhattan. Today he combines hot soppressata with Manila clams, a very common West Coast shellfish; for cooks on the East Coast, he recommends using either littleneck clams or cockles.
Crab Cakes with Horseradish Cream
There's really no substitute for sweet fresh crabmeat—but for a completely different taste, you could use one pound of cod, cooked and flaked.
Clam Pizza with Salad Topping
We've always secretly liked scooping up a bite of salad with a piece of pizza, and lately the idea of mounding dressed greens on top of pizza has caught on with hot chefs, too.
Grilled Oysters with Spicy Tarragon Butter
Bubba Hiers, brother of TV cook Paula Deen, serves fantastic grilled Gulf Coast oysters smothered in butter and Parmesan cheese at Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House in Savannah. Flay modifies the recipe by topping his oysters with a blend of butter, tarragon and hot sauce, then returning them to the grill so the butter melts into little pools in the shells.
Toasted Spaghetti with Clams
Adrià credits the idea for this dish to one of his acolytes, Moreno Cedroni, the hyper-creative Italian chef at La Madonnina del Pescatore in Italy's Marzocca di Senigallia. The method is very similar to risotto, but spaghetti fills in for the arborio rice: Adrià toasts it in a pan with a little oil, then adds hot clam juice until the pasta is fully cooked and loaded with briny flavor.
Brioche Crab Melts
Vitaly Paley, the chef and owner of Paley's Place, created this deliciously indulgent version of the classic tuna melt while competing in a cook-off sponsored by the Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission. Pairing moist chunks of crab with brioche, truffle butter and nutty Gruyère cheese easily snagged him a first-place prize.
Shrimp and Papaya Salad
This sweet, spicy salad is loaded with papaya, a rich source of vitamins A and C. When shopping for papayas, look for yellowish ones that give slightly to pressure.
Sizzled Shrimp Provençal
Chef Bobo makes this garlicky, lemony dish with sea scallops, but Hamilton uses jumbo shrimp because Olivia prefers it. Shrimp is an excellent source of low-fat protein and it also provides potassium and vitamin D.
Shea Gallante's delectable sandwich is filled with crunchy bacon, sweet chunks of lobster (replacing the usual lettuce) and herb-spiked mayonnaise. "When you add lobster to a sandwich, there's no way it won't be great," he says.
Shrimp and Avocado Salad
Traci Des Jardins created this refreshing salad to showcase one of her favorite Latin ingredients, the avocado. She tasted her first avocado during a visit to her Grandma Salazar in Mexico; she would snack on it at taco and fruit stands on the street, where it is typically served with fresh lime juice and chile salt.
Angel-Hair Pasta with Crab and Country Ham
Pinot Blanc, a.k.a. the poor man's Chardonnay, has a bright acidity that's terrific with dishes like this lush pasta from F&W's Marcia Kiesel. Fabulous U.S. bottlings, like the 2007 Robert Foley Vineyards from Napa and the 2006 Erath from Oregon, cost less than $25 a bottle.
Steamed Mussels with Tomato-and-Garlic Broth
Mussels have three things going for them: They're cheap, quick to cook, and delicious. Using clean farmed mussels negates their one big drawback—the tedious chore of scrubbing and debearding.
Curried Scallops with Spinach
With few ingredients and even fewer steps, this curry is a cinch to make quickly. Most of the work is done by a blender, which ensures a silky sauce. If you don't have a blender, use a food processor; the texture will just be slightly less smooth.
In Provence, where fish soups are staples, they're washed down with bottles of the delicious local pink wines. Look to the mourvèdre-based rosés from Bandol for a perfect match.