Healthy twist makes steamed clams even better

  • By Sara Moulton Associated Press
  • Tuesday, March 5, 2013 4:35pm
  • Life

I’d love to claim that this wonderful recipe required hours of arduous research and testing (not to mention the expert application of all of my hard-won culinary skills) before I was able to settle on the exact proportions of its ideal ingredients.

But I’d be lying. In truth, I had almost nothing to do with it. The clams did it.

Certain ingredients — including clams, mussels, rack of lamb, skirt steak and dark chocolate — make meals delicious with very little effort on your part.

Really, you’d have to be an idiot to screw them up. Clams and mussels are especially generous, delivering a one-two punch of taste thrills: the succulent bivalves themselves and the deeply flavorful juices that stream out of them when they’re cooked.

My favorite way to mess with clams is to steam them, as in this recipe. You toss all the ingredients into a pot, pile on the clams, put on the lid, crank up the heat, and presto!

Ten minutes later the dish is done. The only problem is that the clam liquor at the bottom of the pot is so tasty that I’m forced to sop it up with slice after slice of bread.

That’s why I decided to bulk up this dish with broccoli rabe, a healthy and savory vegetable that absorbs some of the clam liquor as it cooks (though the clam liquor that remains still cries out for at least a slice or two of toasted country-style bread).

As a way of blunting the vegetable’s slightly bitter edge, your first step with broccoli rabe is to blanch it.

Cut off the tough ends of the stems, then boil it all in a large pot of salted water for two minutes. Next, drain it and transfer it to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the color.

Finally, chop it crosswise into pieces about 1/2-inch thick. It’s just much easier to eat that way. The garlic, chili sauce, ginger and sesame oil in the broth are complements strong enough to stand up to the robustness of the broccoli rabe.

After insisting above that there’s no way to screw up cooking with clams, I’ve got to emphasize one crucial step, a step to ensure that the little guys turn out tender.

You need to remove each clam from the pot as it opens up. The first ones will be good to go after four or five minutes. The last clam might stay clammed up until five or six minutes later, by which time the first clams — if you’d left them in — would be horribly tough.

That’s it. Quick, easy, nutritious, delicious and satisfying. Try it and see if you don’t end up happier than a clam.

Asian steamed clams or mussels with broccoli rabe

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon grated or finely chopped fresh ginger

½ cup finely chopped scallions (white and green parts)

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon Chinese chili sauce (or your favorite hot sauce)

½ cup dry white wine

½ cup low-sodium chicken broth

3 dozen littleneck clams or 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed well

½ teaspoon sesame oil

3 cups blanched and coarsely chopped broccoli rabe

8 thick slices country-style bread, toasted

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium high. Add the ginger, scallions and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the chili sauce, white wine, chicken broth and clams. Cover tightly and cook until the clams start to open. As they open, transfer the clams to a bowl. It will take 7 to 10 minutes for all the clams to open. Discard any clams that do not open.

Keep the saucepan over medium heat. Return the clams and any liquid in the bowl to the pan. Add the broccoli rabe, then cook just until heated through. Add the sesame oil and stir well. Divide the clams and broccoli rabe, along with the cooking liquid, between 4 shallow soup bowls. Serve each bowl with a few slices of toasted bread and a soup spoon.

Makes 4 servings. Per serving: 450 calories; 100 calories from fat (22 percent of total calories); 12 g fat (0.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 45 mg cholesterol; 52 g carbohydrate; 4 g fiber; 8 g sugar; 29 g protein; 500 mg sodium.

More in Life

Mukilteo’s Hani Hani scores with the police chief

The Japanese restaurant serves dishes (poke, ramen, grill) inspired by the Hawaiian islands.

‘Coco’ is another eye-popping home run for Pixar/Disney

The animated movie’s a lively, touching tale of honoring family, following dreams.

Beer of the Week: Scuttlebutt’s Barrel-aged Belgian Winter

Made in 2013, the dark strong ale was stowed away in barrels. The brewery tests one each year.

‘Love, Chaos and Dinner’ an Teatro ZinZanni’s original show

The “Parsian cabaret” is a superb circus dinner theater operation in Marymoor Park through April 29.

Heavy Hollywood headlines: Robert Horton’s movies preview

In the midst of all the sexual-misconduct allegations, the holiday film season offers some relief.

Denzel Washington’s remarkable performance isn’t helped by plot

The actor is convincing as an awkward, eccentric lawyer, but unconvincing contrivances pile up.

‘The Breadwinner’ animation is strong, but its story is stilted

The Cartoon Saloon film never lets you forget that you’re here to learn an important lesson.

Pianist Kaitlyn Gia Lee, 10, of Mill Creek, will perform Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 in A Major on Nov. 26 with the Everett Philharmonic Orchestra.
Young pianist to perform Mozart with Everett Philharmonic

Kaitlyn Gia Lee, 10, of Mill Creek, will play the piano at the Music for the Imagination concert.

Liz Oyama as Belle, Jimmi Cook as Gaston and John Han as Lefou star in the Edmonds Driftwood Players production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” opening Nov. 24. Magic Photo
In Driftwood’s ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ Belle has girl-power bend

Edmonds Driftwood Players presents Disney’s adaptation of the fair tale Nov. 24 through Dec. 17.

Most Read