Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Baked Clams with Wasabi Bread Crumbs

It’s that time of year when party food has its moment or several moments. I have to say, as I was preparing the dish shown here today, I kept thinking of how well it would work as a hors d’oeuvre for a party. This dish came from Mark Bittman's Kitchen Matrix, and I received a review copy. The idea behind the book is that every basic recipe can be adapted into sometimes countless variations. General concepts like chicken wings, vegetable soup, grain salads, deviled eggs, etc. are shown with simple changes that take each in numerous different directions. The cooking technique remains the same, but the flavor profiles change. So, those wings could end up with typical Buffalo spicing, or you could choose teriyaki, lemon-garlic-pepper, chipotle-lime, Thai peanut, or jerk. The book would be a great source for those times when you’ve run out of ideas for what to do with fresh corn or zucchini or beets. Of the 16 ways celery is used, there are a few I would never have thought of. Celery slaw with fennel, celery raita, and orange and celery salad all sound delicious. There's a very practical feel to the book. It straightforwardly guides you through the options for choosing a flavor profile and combination of ingredients. Because this is a Mark Bittman book, of course there are gentle reminders that I like seeing about minimizing meat intake and filling most of our plates with vegetables. And, the book ends with a delightful chapter of sweets with twists on basic cookie dough, four versions of doughnuts, and a dozen options for ice pops. The first recipe I tried from the book was the Corn Cakes with fresh corn kernels. I served those savory, little pancakes for brunch with frittata and topped them with a sprinkling of smoked paprika. The other options for the corn cakes included turning them into arepas or corn and crab cakes. Next, I had to try the Baked Clams with Wasabi Bread Crumbs. 

One reason this dish would be great for a party is because the clams can be steamed open and prepped in advance and kept in the refrigerator. They can be popped into a hot oven for a brief 10 minutes to warm through just before serving. So, to begin, I always clean clams by putting them in a big bowl of water and adding a few tablespoons of flour. I leave them to soak and purge for 15 minutes or so. Then, I rinse the clams to remove any flour, and they’re ready to steam. To steam, I put them in a Dutch oven, add some water and white wine to total about one-half cup, maybe add a peeled and smashed garlic clove or two, cover, and bring to a boil. Check the clams after a few minutes and remove each one as it opens. Once cool enough to handle, the top of each shell was removed. If serving at a party, I would loosen the clams from the bottom shells at this point to make eating them even easier. They could be refrigerated until ready to serve. For the bread crumb filling, I toasted the panko in a dry skillet on top of the stove first. This wasn’t called for in the recipe, but the bread crumbs will have a better chance of a good overall toasting if given this head start. While toasting, a teaspoon of soy sauce and a small drizzle of sesame oil were added. After toasting, a teaspoon of wasabi powder was stirred into the bread crumbs. The bread crumb mixture was spooned on top of each opened clam, and the clams were placed on a baking sheet. They went into a 450 degree F oven for 10 minutes and were topped with chopped garlic chives before serving. 

Clams, and all bivalves, are such a good sustainable choice of seafood; I’m thrilled to have some new recipes like this one for using them. There are also recipes in the book for pan-roasted and fried clams. This book does a great job of pointing you in new directions with mostly familiar ingredients and recipes and gets you thinking creatively about myriad other ways you might tweak some of your favorite meals. Happy party season, and Happy Thanksgiving! 

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14 comments:

  1. These do look like a terrific appetizer. Really like that you can prepare them largely ahead of time, then just finish them before serving. Handy! Thanks. Hope you have a great Thanksgiving!

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  2. What a great sounding combination of flavours and textures.

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  3. You're right, these do look like a perfect hors d’oeuvre for a party. Lovely! Happy Thanksgiving, Lisa :)

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  4. Hi Lisa, I love this cookbook and the methods behind it, will definitely have to prepare this recipe. Happy Thanksgiving to you!

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  5. It definitely is the season of appetisers. These are very pretty and would be perfect at any festive party. Excellent how these can be prepared ahead of time - love that xx

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  6. Wasabi bread crumbs.... now, that could be my passion for the year 2016! ;-)

    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, Lisa!

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  7. the thing that bothers me most about clams is their texture, so i really like the idea of crunchy bread crumbs on top!

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  8. Very unique and great idea!!!
    Thanks for sharing such fabulous blog!!

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  9. Hi Lisa:)
    I do hope you and yours had a glorious Thaksgiving, Lisa:)

    Pretty quiet around here although Marion did have a few guests:)

    I'm really liking this recipe Lisa and have a feeling I would enjoy this book also. It's been so long since I've had fresh clams. I'm hesitant to buy them for some reason. I think I'm just spoiled from being able to get them fresh from the ocan in my "olden" days, lol...I LOVE the notion of wasabi and panko. I can see already how this book not only combines flavors but also presentations!

    Thank you so much for sharing, Lisa...Enjoy the holiday season, Lisa...

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  10. The wasabi is a nice twist on baked clams.

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  11. I love this for a party, Lisa. That crunchy topping with a kick is the perfect foil for clams.

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  12. I don't usually go for spicy-hot, but I have fallen in love with wasabi! I have added wasabi almonds (ground) to toppings, but now I will have to look for wasabi powder! Thanks.

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