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Fish 4 Friday: Clams in Green Sauce

Clam Pile

Clams are seafood, right? They don’t often show up in the top five seafood items that a person might list, if asked what constitutes “seafood.” Diners who enjoy clams, though, are beyond passionate about them, it seems. (Don’t ask me why; anything in a shell gives me trouble. Not getting them open; surviving the experience after eating them, that’s my snag.) It’s clam season year-round in Texas, and classically the best months don’t end with the letter “r”. Those months are for oysters. Still, you can find good clams in December if you’re diligent in your search. Or go with mussels, which are really clam cousins who moved to the freshwater suburbs.

The Spanish and Portuguese are well-known purveyors and aficionados of clams. (I found out in ’86 that the Dutch and Belgians relish mussels, and they especially know how to enjoy them in the tiny village of Philippine.) Clams are a significant ingredient in authentic Paella, for example. They can also be the feature ingredient, as in this recipe:

This recipe (Almejas en Salsa Verde con Chile) reminds me of several Mexican dishes I know; this one that seems to have moved from Spain basically intact. The green sauce is extremely easy to make, and versatile too! I recommend you learn to prepare it, even if you don’t use it on clams (or other seafood). It can be a table dipping sauce, or used on enchiladas or tacos. Adjust the heat as desired, or switch from Serranos to jalapeƱo or Fresno chiles for a different chile essence. Use Scotch Bonnets at your own risk! I don’t recommend making the sauce too zesty if you’re going to pair it with seafood. If you’re eating skirt steak, though, zest away!

Mussels will work as well as clams in this dish. I suspect you can modify this recipe to include shrimp, or even fish filets. The beans can be optional, although they add a nice texture and flavor counterpoint. If you don’t have cannelonis, use any small, white bean, like navy or Great Northern. Once you have the green sauce, you can experiment to your heart’s content. And believe me, you’ll be content after you try this one…

Enjoy the (Tongue-Bouncing Bivalve) Heat!

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