Oregon Steamer Clams
Ahh, nothing is better than a nice hot bowl of steamed clams on a cold winter day - or a cool summer evening.
There are many types of clams available. Being a west-coaster, we prefer either Pacific Littlenecks or Manila clams. If you're an east-coaster, there are small littlenecks, round clams or in New England "quahogs", cherry clams which are slightly larger and chowder clams which are even bigger but tougher, and the soft shells - long necks, squirt clams, and belly clams.
If you want raw clams on the half shell, you will need to shuck them open with a knife. This is a difficult process at best, which is one of the reasons we prefer steaming - they open by themselves.
- Look for about 18-24 moist clams with shells. It doesn't matter if they're slightly open, as long as when you tap them gently they close. It means they're alive and fresh.
- Take them home and refrigerate in a dish with water and some sea salt, a brine for them to continue living.
- Scrub the clams under cold running water.
- With 4 quarts of water and 1/3 cup of salt, soak the clams in a large pot for 15 minutes, drain, and soak them again. The purpose of all of this scrubbing and soaking is to remove sand, since the clam's eating process involves eating a lot of sand too, which you don't want to munch on when eating the final product.
- Draining your large pan, add enough water to cover the bottom to 1/2 inch depth. Bring to a boil with two pats of butter and a small pour of olive oil. Add sliced crushed parsley and tarragon, with the juice of one fresh lemon. Also add 1/4 cup of crushed sea salt. Finally, add 1/2 cup of a full-bodied, slightly sweet yet not sour Chardonnay, plus a handful of minced garlic and white onion.
- Pour the clams into a steamer basket, or a caulender fitting the pan will work too.
- Steam covered for 5-7 minutes or until shells are opened. Throw away any clams that don't open.
- Spoon the clams into a bowl with the liquid (their "liquor", or flavor, will be included) or on top of a pasta such as linguini.
- Serve with fresh sourdough bread and a summer salad, such as Italian greens and cherry tomatoes with a vinaigrette dressing. Some white or yellow corn boiled or grilled on the cob is a good partner as well.
- Keep a big empty bowl on the table to toss the empty shells, and plenty of forks to get at the clams plus plenty of napkins.
OregonWines.com suggests serving the following types of wine while enjoying Oregon Steamer Clams. Click on a wine type to search our database for matching wines.
||Typically aged in oak, it is dry in flavor, with strong aromas, and has a golden hue. It is also used to produce Champagne and méthode Champenoise wines.|
||A light, aromatic, wine with flavors of apple, pear, apricot, and other fruits, and with yellow to pale straw hues.|