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Flourless New England Clam Chowder


(serves 10)
New England or Boston Clam Chowder, the ultimate blending of seafood and vegetables in a hearty soup. When you are making 
America’s most famous soup there are a few things you want. Thicken the chowder without any taste of flour, make the chowder faster without having to wait an eternity for the potatoes to disintegrate, give the chowder rich layers of flavour. After a lot of trial and error, I think I have come up with just the right recipe to achieve all these things. 

Ingredientsclam chowder 1000

  1. Canned Clams in Brine (3 x 184g)
  2. Bacon (6 slices)
  3. Canned Anchovies in Oil (50g wet weight)
  4. White Wine (0.5 cup)
  5. Potatoes (5 large)
  6. Leek (1 stalk)
  7. Onions (2)
  8. Scallion (10 stalks)
  9. Mascarpone (125g)
  10. Bread (4 slices)
  11. Hon Dashi
  12. Sherry
  13. Dill Weed

Preparation Part I

  1. Cut the crust off 4 slices of bread and leave in the fridge to dry overnight.
  2. Peel the potatoes. Boil 3 (not all 5) of them in a large pot with 10 cups of water.
  3. While the potatoes are boiling, cube the bread into 1cm pieces and crush them into crumbs in a plastic bag with a mallet. Toast the bread cubes lightly if they are not crispy enough to be smashed.
  4. Dice 5 slices of semi frozen bacon and allow them to thaw.
  5. Fish the potatoes from the pot after boiling them for 20 minutes. Keep the water on a low simmer and put the bread crumbs in.
  6. Julienne the onions. Partially open a tin of anchovies and pour its oil into a pan. Fry half of the onions on low heat in the pan, stirring occasionally.
  7. In the meanwhile dice the remaining 2 potatoes into 1cm cubes. Julienne the scallion and the leek. Don’t add them to the pot just yet; you can put the cut vegetables with the raw onion bits.
  8. When the onions have become limp and translucent, mash the anchovies in the tin itself and add to the pan. Stir fry for a minute to mix the anchovy into the onions, turn up the fire and then deglaze the pan with half a cup of white wine. Bring to a boil and after a minute pour the contents of the pan into the simmering pot.
  9. Next, stir fry the bacon bits in the same pan. When the bacon fat has rendered and the bacon begins to brown add the brine from the clams, reserving the meat for later use. After a minute after it reaches boiling, again pour the contents of the pan into the (still simmering) pot.
  10. When all the breadcrumbs have melted, mash the 3 cooked potatoes and add the mash to the pot followed by all the vegetable bits. Add 1T of Hon Dashi pellets, 1T dill weed and 1t sugar. Top up with water such that everything is submerged. Continue to simmer for another 40 minutes stirring occasionally, then leave the pot covered on the stove to cool.
  11. When you are about ready to serve your clam chowder, bring the pot back to a boil and add the clam meat. Place 125g of mascarpone in a bowl with some hot liquid from the pot. Mix until all the lumps are gone and pour back into the pot.
  12. Add 3T of sherry and 1t black pepper, simmer for a further 5 minutes and then add salt (and sugar) to taste. Serve with oyster or other similar type of unsalted crackers

 Notes

  • If you have fresh clam meat you can add that to the chowder in step 10, but you still need to use the canned clams, for the clam brine.
  • Yes I did not use any celery in my recipe, its not essential in my opinion. If you insist on adding some chopped celery, fry them with the onions in step 6.
  • If you are using waxy type potatoes, you can keep the skin on the diced potatoes if you prefer. Depending on the size of your potatoes you may need more than 5; I’ve assumed the use of large ones. For a thinner chowder, mash only 2 potatoes.
  • If you don’t have any Hon Dashi, you can substitute in any kind of seafood-type stock cube.
 
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Posted by on January 28, 2017 in Recipe, Seafood, Soups

 

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Oven Cooked Creole Jambalaya


(serves 12)
Jambalaya is an all-in-one rice dish specific to the American South-east. If I’m not mistaken Jambalaya means Ham-Rice.  While some consider Jambalaya a spicy version of its cousin the Spanish Paella, I tend to think of it as a heavier meatier version, as is the way with all things American, and that’s the way I make mine, with lots of smoked or cured meat. I use a special extra ingredient, minced pork sausage filling, this flavours the rice really nicely. I also grill the chicken and seafood separately first, this flavours the fresh meats really nicely.      
 

Ingredients Jambalaya

  1. Clams in Shell (600g)
  2. Prawns (16 large)
  3. Scallops (6 Jumbo)
  4. Chicken Legs with Thigh (3)
  5. Smoked Pork Belly (400g)
  6. Breakfast Pork Sausages (400g)
  7. Chorizo Sausages (250g)
  8. Onion (2)
  9. Capsicum (2)
  10. Celery (2 cups, chopped)
  11. Chopped Tomatoes (1 can, 400g)
  12. Raw Jasmine Rice (4 cups)
  13. Chicken Stock Cube (1)
  14. Whisky
  15. Cayenne Pepper
  16. Paprika
  17. Cumin
  18. Oregano
  19. Thyme

Preparation

  1. Boil 7 cups of water in a pot with one chicken stock cube. Cut the heads of your prawns just behind the carapace and snip off all whiskers. Thrown the heads into the boiling stock pot and keep the stock simmering on a low flame.
  2. Shell and then devein the prawn bodies and cut into finger tip size pieces. Cut the scallops into similar sized pieces. Marinate together in a bowl using 0.5T paprika, 0.5T cumin, a pinch of salt and a dash of oil.
  3. In a second larger bowl rub 3 chicken legs with 1T paprika and 1T cumin and 1t of salt.
  4. Grill the chicken for 10 minutes and then the prawn and scallop for 5 minutes. Since the seafood cooks faster, you should not grill them together. Dissolve any left over marinade in hot stock and then pour the liquid back into the stock pot.
  5. Dice 2 cups of celery, 2 onions and 2 capsicum (i.e. bell pepper).
  6. Soak and agitate the clams in a bucket of cold water. Strain and then throw the clams into the stock pot with 1/4 cup of whisky. Boil for a minute on high heat with the cover on before turning the fire off.
  7. Debone the cooled grilled chicken and cut it into bite-sized chunks. You can mix it with the seafood bits at this stage. The bones can go into the stock pot.4 Bowls of Pork
  8. Dice the smoked pork belly. Cut the lard portions into smaller pieces (10 o’clock) and the meat portions into larger cubes (8 o’clock). Slice the Chorizo into slices (4 o’clock). Remove the skin of the pork sausages (2 o’clock) and mix the filling with 1/2 cup of water to loosen it.
  9. Spoon 4T of vegetable oil into a large frying pan. Add the pork belly and Chorizo and fry on medium heat till the lard renders. Next, add the sausage filling as well and stir fry until the minced pork browns.
  10. Remove the meat. Reserve 4T of the flavoured oil leaving the rest in the pan. Stir fry the celery and onion in the same pan until they are limp. Then add 4 cups of jasmine rice (or another type of long grain) and stir fry for a further minute.
  11. Pour the contents of the pan into a large iron pot (i.e. Dutch oven) or large casserole dish. Add the prawn heads and clams (discard those that did not open). Add all the cooked meat and diced capsicum. Mix well.
  12. Preheat your oven to 150oC (300oF).
  13. Reheat the stock and add 5 cups of boiling stock to the pot. Follow this with the can of diced tomatoes, 1T cayenne pepper, 1T oregano, 1T thyme, 1t salt, 1t sugar. Reheat the pot on the stove until is just begins to boil.
  14. Place the pot in the oven with cover on. After 45 minutes, check if the rice is cooked. If the jambalaya is already dry but the rice is still hard, sprinkle on 0.5 cups of boiling water and bake for a further 5-10 minutes. Check the rice deep under the surface. When the rice is perfect, allow it to rest inside the oven with the cover off.
  15. In the meanwhile, mix the reserved pork oil with the remaining stock in the same pan and boil down till it begins to thicken. Spoon this over your jambalaya and serve.

NotesJambalaya in pot

  • This is a recipe for a very large amount of food. You can halve the portions if you don’t have that many people. There shouldn’t be any scaling issues.
  • Between two pots of the same volume, use the one that is flatter. The Jambalaya will cook more evenly.
  • Why didn’t I just cook the jambalaya on the stove?
    Because there is a tendency for the bottom of the pot to burn. You can try that after you have perfected the oven method.
  • Why do we have to grill the chicken and seafood first?
    This is a great way to sear some flavour into them so they don’t taste like boiled meat. The high heat will also remove freezer taste and ensure the prawn does not get mushy, which tends to happen if it is cooked too slowly.
  • Why do we need to make the sauce at the end?
    The varieties of rice which can absorb the taste of the stock will go mushy if they are cooked with too much water. Adding the sauce after the rice is cooked is the best way to ensure the rice is fluffy and yet moist. 
  • Many recipes I have come across use equal parts of water and rice. Not sure what kind of rice they are using (instant?) but I find more water is required than rice.
  • Add more cayenne pepper if you like your jambalaya spicy.
  • I have made some substitutions. I used Chorizo as Andouille it is not easily found in many parts of the world. I also swapped scallops in for calamari as squid gets very hard when it is over cooked. If you can’t find smoked pork belly, use a brined ham hock or cubed pancetta (but not sliced bacon). 
  • I usually use capsicums of 2 different colours for a better visual impact.
 
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Posted by on August 25, 2014 in Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe, Seafood

 

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No-Cream Boston Clam Chowder


(serves 6)
Boston Clam Chowder is a clam chowder of the white variety that is popular in the New England area. Its basic ingredients are pretty standard, but it is precisely the combination of clams, bacon, onions, potatoes that makes the Boston Clam Chowder such a favourite. Its perfect for cold weather, or just anytime you hunger for a hearty soup. Once you know the secret to thickenining a chowder properly, whipping up a batch is not all that difficult.

Clarification – just because there is no cream doesn’t mean this is a healthy recipe.

Ingredients

  1. Bottled Clams (2 x 250ml)
  2. Smoked Clams (1 flat tin)
  3. Onion (1)
  4. Fennel (equivalent of 1 onion)
  5. Bacon (6 slices)
  6. Potato (2)
  7. Milk (1 cup)
  8. Butter (50g)
  9. Flour
  10. Sage
  11. Thyme
  12. Cognac  

Preparation 

  1. Julienne the onion and fennel into small bits. For this part you only need the fennel bulb, but you can save the leafy bits (some people call it the frond?) for garnishing.
  2. Cut the bacon into small squares; the bacon will be easier to handle if it is stacked and semi frozen.
  3. Peel and dice one potato into small bits that will disintegrate after some simmering. This will make the chowder thicker. Cut the second one into larger cubes that will remain intact.
  4. Fry the bacon bits in a pan on low heat to melt its fat. When the bacon is beginning to crisp nicely, add the onion and fennel and stir fry till they begin to caramelize. Turn up the heat and add the clams, including their brine.
  5. Pour everything into a soup pot. Add the potato and 2 cups of water. Set to a low simmer.
  6. Dry the pan with some kitchen towels and melt 50g of butter in it on a low flame. When the butter has melted, sprinkle in 2T of flour and stir fry till the flour begins to darken. Next, pour in 1 cup of milk very slowly, stirring vigourously the entire time to flatten lumps.
  7. After a while, you will end up with a thick white sauce. Add the tin of smoked clams to the sauce, including all the oil. Stir in some of the soup into the white sauce till it gets watery, then pour everything back into the soup pot.
  8. Add 1t thyme and 1t sage to the pot and simmer for 2 hours. You’ll need to stir occasionally to prevent bits from sticking to the bottom. Add hot water to bring the soup back to the right consistency as needed. At the end, a piece of bread should be able to stand (not just float) on the chowder. With 5 minutes to go, add 2T of brandy.
  9. Season only after the simmering is done. Taste first before adding salt. Depending on how salty the clam brine was, you may (or may not) need to add a pork / vegetable bullion cube. On the soup plate itself, garnish with black pepper and fennel leaves, plus some chopped parsley if you like.

Notes

  • Use only the bottled variety of clams. Any food canned with brine will acquire a metallic taste and thus clams in a can are a no,no. The smoked clams are in oil, so the ‘can rule’ doesn’t apply.
  • If you have the good fortune to be using fresh clams, all the better. Soak your clams in cold water to get them to extrude sand, and then quickly cook in boiling water for a minute. Use the boiling liquid in the soup as per the brine mentioned above but add the clams (after shelling) only at the very end – so the meat remains tender.
  • If you don’t want to use or can’t find fennel, substitute with celery.
  • The white sauce is an essential step so don’t think you can skip it. The flour will soak up the oil from the bacon and smoked clams. Otherwise, you may end up with droplets of oil floating on the surface.
  • How come some restaurant’s clam chowder is so much whitee? They use milk in step 5. 
 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Recipe, Seafood, Soups

 

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Linguine Vongole


(serves 3-4)
When someone mentions linguine, I can’t help but think of clams, the same way I think of bolognese when I hear spaghetti or carbonara when I hear fettucine. There are many varieties of Linguine Vongole, from light neuvo versions made with garlic and sake to ultra-orthodox ones served with clams still in the shell. My version of this timeless classic use a few extra ingredients to arrive at a richer sauce, but it’s still distinctively a Vongole.
 
 
Ingredients
  1. Smoked Clams in Oil (150g)
  2. Linguine (250g)
  3. Crushed Garlic (4t)
  4. Parmesan (3t)
  5. Pesto (3t)
  6. Onion (1) 
  7. Chardonnay (0.5 cup)
  8. Olive Oil (0.25 cup) 
  9. Basil (1t)
  10. Oregano (1t)

Preparation

  1. Put a pot of water to boil with a dash of olive oil and a pinch of salt, so you’ll be ready to do the pasta at a moment’s notice.
  2. Cut your onion into half and slice into very thin half rings. These have to be thin (2mm) as they are meant to disappear into the linguine. Brown them in a sauce pan with 2T of olive oil.
  3. When the onion begins to soften, add 3t of pesto and 3t of crushed garlic and continue to stir fry. After a minute, turn up the heat and add your clams, including their oil. 150g of clams should be about what you get from two standard rectangular sardine tins.
  4. After another minute, deglaze with half a cup of chardonnay. Sprinkle in 1 heaped t each of basil and oregano and simmer on low heat.
  5. In the meanwhile put your linguine into the pot of boiling water.
  6. When the wine has lost 90% of its volume, turn the heat off. Pour in 1/5 cup of olive oil (extra virgin of course). If you like a hint of fresh garlic like me, stir 1t of crushed garlic into the olive oil before pouring it in. Sprinkle on 3t of finely grated parmigiano and give the sauce a final stir. 
  7. When your pasta starts to soften, strain it and continue the final softening in the pasta sauce itself. Toss the linguine in the pan as it cooks under medium heat until it is al dente. Taste and add a bit of salt if required (particularly if you didn’t use smoked clams).
  8. Finish off with a sprinkle of black pepper on the serving plate.

Notes

  • Why not fresh clams? Well they are hard to procure. They are troublesome to pre-boil. Their shells get in my way when I’m trying to enjoy my pasta. They take up more space and you’ll need a very larger pan if you are cooking for more than 2. The shells will scratch the pan if it is of the non-stick type. I can go on and on.
  • I’ve chosen smoked clams as the smoked flavour bleeds into the sauce and gives a very interesting taste. Besides, I generally avoid boiled canned clams as they carry a metallic taste from the can. If you have to use the unsmoked variety, remember to strain the can’s contents ahead of time to get rid of as much of the liquid as possible, and don’t deglaze with the chardonnay until the remaining moisture has evapourated in the hot pan.
  • You can also use the commercial powder parmesan instead of parmigiano if you like. Its only a small amount of cheese and its is being used mainly as a thickener.
 
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Posted by on November 4, 2010 in Italian, Main Courses, Pasta, Seafood

 

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