We’ve used the wonderful venerupis clam, a big, local clam that is meaty, sweet and lip-smackingly good. You could use pipis or any other similar small shellfish for the same result.
- 1–2 tbsp olive oil, for frying
- 1 small chorizo, skinned and diced
- 1 modest leek, pale parts only, washed and diced
- 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
- 1 garlic clove (if chorizo isn’t very garlicky), peeled and chopped
- 1 large or 2 smaller ripe tomatoes, chopped (or 125 g/4½ oz/½ cup tinned tomatoes if you can’t get ripe tomatoes)
- 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) wheat beer or similar
- 1 handful flat-leaf (Italian) parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) clams (vongole), scrubbed, purged (see Note) and rinsed
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan – one that has a lid – over low heat. Gently fry the chorizo to release some of its fat (if it’s lean, it’s not great chorizo, but you can make up for it partly by adding more olive oil). Add the leek, bay leaves and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the leek is translucent and very soft.
Add the tomato and stir until it starts to soften and break apart. Crank up the heat, toss in the beer and parsley and boil for 1 minute. Throw in the clams and put the lid on, allowing them to steam and boil, shaking the pan vigorously every now and then. They should all open in 3–4 minutes. We often take them out as they open so they don’t overcook. Discard any clams that don’t open.
Tip the clams into a big serving bowl with the juice and serve with plenty of bread for soaking up the liquor.
• If harvested from the wild, clams will need purging (if commercially harvested, they should already be purged, but check first). To do this, keep them in cool, slightly salted water overnight (not in the fridge or they will close tight and not release their grit). Cook them briefly – just until their shells open – and discard any that don’t open.
Recipe and image from The Gourmet Farmer Goes Fishing by Matthew Evans, Nick Haddow and Ross O’Meara (Murdoch Books, $49.99, hbk).