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Steamed Clams and Mussels - Home Cooking Dish of the Month (September 2013)

Welcome to the reporting thread for the September 2013 Dish of the Month. This month we will be steaming mussels and clams. Please share your experiences on this thread. Share your ingredients, your method, your outcome. As always, photos are welcome and appreciated.

If you are reporting on a recipe, please remember to paraphrase if it is not your own; verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.
All are welcome to join in. If you haven't participated before, or if you've been lurking, please jump right in. Feel free to ask questions too.

Now let's get to steaming those bivalves!

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  1. Clams vary in type and season, but our general recipe is:

    1.) Rinse lightly.
    2.) Add minced garlic, wine, and herbs of choice to the steam water. We have tried wine, which seems to work better with mussels.
    3 ) We use large oval Braters, or roasting pots to steam. One deep and another shallow, which is preferred for clams.
    4.) We also add vegetables to the clams.
    5.) Steam cook until the clams open.
    6.) The clams are served with lemon. They can also be added to pasta but for that method (Pasta alle Vongole ) we use a large open pan.

    For us the favorite is Moule with a simple white wine, garlic, onion, and herb broth, as above.

    1. ) The mussels are cleaned and the beards removed.
    2. ) We soak the mussels in the broath for 30 minutes before steam cooking.

    The difference is that the remaining steam water + juice is served with croutons.

    1. I mentioned this on another thread months ago but am tickled to be able to participate during one of these monthly threads finally! :-))

      A NEW WAY TO COOK - Sally Schneider

      Clams Steamed in Sake

      1.5 cups of sake is brought to a simmer and reduced by half. Add scrubbed clams, cover. In 3-4 minutes remove the opened clams from the liquid and place into soup bowls. Add minced shallots, 1 Tb. unsalted butter and a pinch of salt to the liquid and boil hard for 30 seconds. Pour liquid over clams, garnish with chopped herbs. Voila!

      This was very good. The sake provided a nice fresh flavor. I used parsley as the garnish since I had it on hand. I think Thai Basil would be interesting though. The author suggests serving this over egg noodles. I had it with a nice artisan loaf to soak up all the brothy bits.

      I would skip the pinch of salt in the future - completely unnecessary.

      I've been craving this lately so this thread is a good nudge to make the dish soon!

      1. Mussels in red chile pesto broth from Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill

        This recipe was delicious, although my SO found it a little rich for his tastes. The sauce goes great with pasta too, but we dipped bread.


        I sub'd pine nuts for almonds, mainly because I thought the pine nuts were too expensive. I also used a dry lemony white wine, which worked well here.

        I think this recipe would work better however with something like shrimp and be used as a filling for a tortilla or taco. As wonderful as the flavours were, it needed a little more with it to make a more substantial meal.

        1. I have been craving this meal ALL. SUMMER. LONG. And I'm so glad I made it and its the DOTM for my birthday month! I picked up 1.5 lbs of "littleneck" clams at my grocer. I put them in quotes, since, as a native New Englander, I know there really is no such clam in my area (LA), but they like to call them that. I don't know if these were farmed or wild, I forgot what the tag said.

          I browned some italian sausage in the pan first. was bummed to hear my local store no longer carries linguiça, as that is my usual prep. Steamed in some white wine with garlic, shallot & red jalapeño. Garnished with some sausage, fresh chopped parsley & basil and served with grilled garlic bread. I ate the WHOLE THING! Terrific!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

            Sounds great Dweo, and nice PIC that shows just how delish!

          2. Hope I'll be able to join in this month, but in the meantime, here are two mussels recipes I can heartily recommend:

            Mussels in Zucchini Basil Broth - very flavorful, light, and fresh tasting. I like to sub dry vermouth or white wine for around a third of the water in the zucchini puree.
            Recipe: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

            Thai-Style Mussels from Rick Moonen's Fish Without a Doubt. Moonen says this is a killer recipe, and that's no exaggeration. A bunch of Chowhounds have raved about this one: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6001...
            Recipe: http://www.thesmartset.com/article/ar...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

              I made the Thai style mussels tonight. Definitely a keeper! The lime leaf infused coconut milk is key I think. I used 2 thai bird chiles and it had the perfect amount of heat. Served with Jasmine rice to sop up all that awesome liquid..

            2. I ued this Jamie Oliver recipe as the inspiration for blue cheese and bacon musels, clams and scallops with hard cider. I skipped the cream and added blue cheese instead. I have never cooked with cider before but I like to drink it. I originally planned to use beer but alas we only had cider in the house so I went with this recipe. The flavor of the dish was great but I happened upon some awful clams which were incredibly salty. I had to give up on eating them after a while and unfortunately they left the broth a salty mess as well. The mussels were great and not a salt lick. I have never steamed clams but I've had them before and don't remember them being so salty but I imagine it varies.

              1. My wife and I both enjoy mussels and this last weekend was no exception. The recipe is pretty straight forward. Go to CostCo when they are having their Seafood Road Show. If they have mussels, educate the kid in the booth about the tag on the bags which has a harvest date on it. If they are fairly new, grab a bag and head on home.
                For the first night, pick through those puppies and throw away any that are obviously dead. Get out a couple of dutch ovens and get some aromatics going in a little o oil. This would include things like shallots, garlic, maybe a good pinch of saffron. Crank the heat all the way up add some wine, dump those puppies in and cover. After a couple of minutes, give them a stir and let them go a few more minutes. I then serve with the juices and a baguette.

                I pluck all the mussels we don’t finish from their shells and save them with the juices for night two. Chowder time. This means linguicia, potatoes, shallots and celery. Brown the linguicia and set aside. Add the potatoes and get a little color in them. Add the celery and shallots and cook a bit more. A cup or so of wine, some stock, cream and the linguicia goes back in. When you have a broth that tastes right, add the mussels with their juices and let warm up.

                1 Reply
                1. re: mike0989

                  Wow, great idea to buy extra for leftovers the next day. I never thought of that.

                2. Not a specific recipe, but a tip I picked up from a Jean Anderson cookbook decades ago and have used with many recipes for mussels since. Cook the mussels in whatever liquid you prefer. As soon as they have begun to open, remove them from the liquid with a spider and reduce the liquid by about a quarter to a third. Once the sauce is reduced, return the mussels to the pot, toss them in the sauce, and finish cooking until fully opened and reheated. This concentrates the liquid from the mussels in the sauce and intensifies it’s flavor.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JoanN

                    I agree, this is a nice technique. Jean-George will have you remove the mussels, then and cream and curry powder to the liquid to turn them into curry mussels. I've done this several times and it's quite good.

                  2. Did a mussels, clams, Scallops with 20 cloves of chopped garlic, one cup of white wine, 1/4 cup of evoo, salt, black pepper , tsp of red pepper flakes . 5 minutes on high flame... Served over linguini . Deeeish with a piece of day old bread dunked in the liquor of the shell fish . What else?

                    1. Mussels steamed in zucchini-basil-garlic broth.

                      Somewhat loosely based on a recipe in Gourmet Today, and also published in Epicurious here:

                      We have an abundance of local mussels, and are always looking for new treatments of same. In the CSA over the last couple of weeks, we've received a boatload of zucchini and basil, plus some shallots and garlic. This was a natural. Raw zucchini, basil, shallots, and garlic are whirred with some olive oil and water (I used white wine instead of water, that's just the kind of girl I am).

                      This broth is heated with the mussels until they are wide open, then topped with a little basil, and ladled into bowls. A little bread, a side salad: easy peasy worknight dinner.

                      1. As a side note, it's interesting to guess where folks live based on the apple cultivars they use.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: foreverhungry

                          foreverhungry - apples? clams and mussels?
                          Good point about the cultivars though. I'm sure we all knew what you meant. Nearly every time I try to type olive, I type almond. Who knows why?

                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                            Holy Moly, somehow my response that was meant for a "best apples for pie" thread posted here. Uh, most likely user error....
                            Sorry about that!

                        2. Now this entry is a bit of a cheat, in that I didn't actually make the dish. We had guests over the weekend and they made this clam chowder. The clams were steamed separately, and added in, at the last minute, to the pre-made chowder base with a little of the steaming liquid. It had tons of bacon, and Asian chile-garlic sauce. (I actually added a plop of sambal oelek to my bowl, but no one else needed that.) This was a lovely, spicy, clammy, bacony, flourless chowder, that I highly recommend. Recipe here:

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                            Looks great. Although I confess sambal olec and chowder aren't concepts that go together in my horribly rigid new england brain.

                            But who knew chowder counted for this month's dish--I made an uber traditional New England Clam chowder over the weekend, hand shucked my quahogs, so that my base had plenty of clam juice flavor, but didn't add the clams until just before adding the milk--which kept them perfectly tender.

                            1. re: qianning

                              Yeah, I don't know if chowder really counts, so it was a bit of a cheat in two ways. But the clams *were* steamed! And added in at the end. It's definitely not like a New England chowder! I wouldn't even have called it chowder, but the recipe did so. It had a thin and spicy broth.

                          2. Any thoughts on a good fennel based recipe for mussels?

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              There's an excellent "Mussels with Fennel" in "Fish Without a Doubt" and a salad variation that includes potatoes.

                              1. re: JoanN

                                Perfect, thanks. I think I'll go with a variation on that with fennel, bacon, and lemon. I'll be sure to report back here. It's my first time trying fresh fennel so fingers crossed.

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  Thanks, I love fennel and potatoes as well.

                                2. re: fldhkybnva

                                  Well that was simple, pure delicious and I am in love with fresh fennel. I sauteed a few slices of bacon, drained, sauteed thinly sliced fennel and garlic in olive oil, added lemon zest, thyme, white wine and a squeeze of lemon, added the bacon back in along with some baby clams and steamed the mussels. I removed all the mussels from the pan, then tossed in some squid and thickened the sauce. This was a great recipe and stupid easy.

                                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                                    Brilliant dish. I love all of your flavors; I'll have to try something like this too!

                                  2. re: fldhkybnva

                                    I am a bit late with my response but maybe useful anyway. I made the most delicious mussels with fennel from A Year in my Kitchen by Skye Gyngell.

                                    1. re: herby

                                      Any hints on the other ingredients?

                                  3. I'll chime in - this one of my favorite dishes.... to make and Eat... I have killer all clad braiser to serve it in...

                                    Muscles with hard cider, chorizo (Spanish only ) & saffron

                                    3 Lbs Mussels
                                    - a good Pinch of Saffron (2 teaspoons? too much and it will taste
                                    - 3 or 4 cloves of garlic (or more....)
                                    - 2 good sized shallots
                                    - 1/2 to 1 stick of butter
                                    - Flat leaf parsley (fresh of course)
                                    - 1.5 to 2 bottles of hard cider Like Ace (plus one for the cook -
                                    this is important)
                                    - 1 Spanish chorizo (make sure it's not Mexican - Spanish ones are
                                    smoked you can get at whole foods or Spanish / basque markets).

                                    - Optional: 1 small fennel bulb thinly sliced / diced.


                                    Brown the chorizo in some of the butter to render the fat from the sausage on medium.
                                    as the fat renders add the shallots, garlic and some of the parsley,

                                    after those are browned add the saffron for one minute.

                                    -Add the cider (making sure that you're drinking one as you do). Bring
                                    just to a boil to combine the flavors. add the rest of the butter.

                                    - Add the mussels all at once, cover to steam for about 5 minutes or
                                    until they all open - discard the ones that don't - throw more parsley
                                    on top and serve with lots of bread.

                                    *Optional - one fennel bulb sliced thin - add it with the shallots and garlic (but worth it).

                                    1. I guess this thread has inspired me - mussels again for lunch today. The plan is to steam in a ginger, scallion, sherry broth.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                                        The mussels turned out great - sauteed scallions, ginger, lemongrass and garlic; deglazed with sherry wine; added a tbsp or so of soy sauce and a few splashes of sesame oil; placed cod on the bottom of the pot on top of the ginger and scallions and then tossed in the scallions. I served it with chili garlic sauce.

                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                          Wow, you are really on a roll! Looks delicious; keep it up!

                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                            Seriously, who know I'll probably fall for the little creatures again tomorrow morning :)

                                      2. Use Prince Edward Island (PEI) mussels no matter what recipe you use.These are the very best and used by most in-the-know restaurants.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Gail

                                          I think this really depends upon where you live. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we get great Penn Cove mussels just up the road a bit. In British Columbia, mussels from Pender Island are terrific. I've had PEI mussels, they were a little shrunken and slightly tough by the time they got to the west coast. I'd rather eat a mussel that just came out of the water this morning.

                                          1. re: L.Nightshade

                                            I'm in CA. Sorry you had a bad experience with PEI, I never have, and until I knew the difference, I loved whatever mussels I got. Glad you're happy with what is so handy in your backyard.

                                            1. re: Gail

                                              Agree with LN; Penn Cove is THE go-too mussell in puget sound proper. local, fresh, properly and sustainably raised, great flavor.

                                              I just have to get on this band-wagon and cook some now that I have time again to cook!

                                        2. Thai green curry mussels for dinner last night. I used this recipe as a guide :


                                          I split the sauce in two pots since I made my husband's with chicken, he's not a mussel fan. His had shiitake mushrooms added. I also used scallions instead of shallots, since I needed to use some up. And my half a bottle of Thai green curry had been in the fridge for a bit too long so it lost a lot of its potency, but thankfully, not flavor. Steamed jasmine rice for him, grilled bread in the leftover roast chicken fat for me. Oh, and garnished with fresh mint, but forgot the lime! Delicious!

                                          1. Steamed Mussels with Bacon, Tomatoes, Shallots, Chiles, Lime Juice, and Cilantro.
                                            We got some beautiful, fresh out of the water, Penn Cove mussels today, so I made this dish. The ingredients pretty much sum it up. I originally made this during a Cookbook of the Month, but I don't know what cookbook it was. It is also online here:

                                            I pay no attention to the amounts called for, adding more bacon and chiles (serrano, jalapeño, and yellow) to our taste. It's a great combination of flavors. The lime at the end brightens it up, and the butter smoothes it out. Just lovely.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: L.Nightshade

                                              Looks and sounds delicious, LN! The link says it's a Michael Romano recipe, so I first thought Union Square Cafe, but looks like it's not from one of those cookbooks.

                                              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                Thanks Caitlin! I realized it was in 150 Best American Recipes. I knew it had to be an anthology of some sort.

                                              2. re: L.Nightshade

                                                LN, Now THAT might be WFD today!

                                                With the cooler weather having rolled in, I was thinking a braise or something... but Penn Cove's with bacon, and all these other flavors sounds terrific - and I can add in my garden-ripe tomato.

                                                Will report back:)

                                              3. Hi, LN:

                                                My all-time favorite mussel prep is the ancho chile cream appetizer served at El Camino in Seattle's Fremont neighborhood.

                                                Although I don't have the recipe FROM El Camino, I'll leave it for a person with better tastebuds than I to tell any difference.

                                                1 T. extra virgin olive oil
                                                3 shallots, finely chopped
                                                1 stalk celery, finely chopped
                                                3 garlic cloves, crushed
                                                12-15 fresh thyme sprigs tied together with kitchen string
                                                1 bay leaf
                                                1 tsp. or more ancho chili powder
                                                1 c. dry white wine
                                                1 bottle clam juice
                                                ½ c. heavy cream
                                                2-3 lbs. mussels, cleaned and de-bearded
                                                kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
                                                2 T. chopped fresh parsley
                                                1 small tomato, chopped
                                                1 lemon cut into wedges for garnish
                                                chewy Italian baguette, sliced

                                                Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add shallots and celery and sweat until softened, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, sauté for 1 minute. Add the thyme sprigs, bay leaf, ancho chile (start with 1 teaspoon), wine, clam juice, and cream. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered until liquid is reduced to about ½ cup, 30-40 minutes. If you want a stronger ancho taste, add a small amount more at this point. Remove the thyme sprig bundle and bay leaf from the pan. Discard. Turn up the heat, and add mussels; cover and simmer until mussels open, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Taste broth and season with salt and pepper if required. Sprinkle with parsley and chopped tomato and garnish with lemon wedges. Provide each person with a large flat bowl and a tiny or salad fork. Serve mussels right out of pan with baguette slices for dipping.

                                                If you're sane, you will also issue each guest a straw to draw out every last drop of this sauce/broth.


                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: kaleokahu

                                                  Wow, that sounds wonderful. I'm half tempted to drive into Seattle! I'll put it on my to-prepare-soon list.

                                                  1. re: kaleokahu

                                                    That sound's very tasty Kaleo...

                                                    how have I missed that at El Camino - I must have been too focused on the always excellent margarita's there!

                                                    Must try again to get some good mussels this week:)

                                                    1. re: kaleokahu

                                                      Ancho Chile Mussels, in the style of El Camino, via kaleokahu.

                                                      I made this tonight, with some fabulously fresh mussels just in today. I made one grave error, which was not tasting the wine before pouring it into the pan. A friend brought it to me, I just assumed it would be good. It was awful! And the sauce tasted awful. Dumped it and started over with a new bottle.

                                                      This dish was great! I used a bit more ancho chile powder than called for, maybe 1 1/2 tsp. Not looking for more heat necessarily, just a deeper flavor. It elicited raves at table, and even I spied a bowl up to lips at completion. I'll do it again, no doubt.

                                                      Thanks for sharing!

                                                    2. Mussels with Fennel and Lovage

                                                      This is a very light, but delicious dish. I grow lovage just for this dish and the Verjus just makes it delightful.

                                                      1. I improvised based on things I had around that needed using, starting with a half cup or so of a pureed piquillo pepper sauce made with shrimp stock that was languishing in my freezer. I sauteed sliced fennel, scallion whites, and garlic, then added dry sherry, the piquillo sauce, a couple of chopped small tomatoes, and a healthy shake of Aleppo pepper. I let that simmer for a few minutes, then added a pound of mussels. Finished with some minced chives and fennel fronds. This was a delicious dinner!

                                                        ETA: There seems to be a glitch with posting photos at the moment, so I don't know if mine will magically appear when they fix it. If not, I'll post it again...

                                                        1. Keep cooking those clams and mussels! And please drop in over here to nominate dishes for October:

                                                          1. Clams and Sausage in a Cataplana

                                                            The New Portuguese Table is one on the books in contention for October's COTM. Over on that thread, MelMM posted a link to this recipe, which I just had to try.

                                                            We had Manila clams from Samish Bay, so I got out the cataplana and the clams steamed away, with onions, linguiça, Serrano ham, garlic, tomatoes, wine, and paprika.

                                                            It reminded me a bit of the mussels dish I made last week, with bacon and tomatoes. Very aromatic, very tasty.

                                                            1. My favorite easy way took clams is to place the cleaned and purged clams over a hot hardwood fire on my grill. On the side, off the heat, I have a disposable aluminum pan that contains some melted butter, olive oil, garlic, parsley, oregano, basil, and a little pepper.
                                                              As the clams open on the grill, I carefully move them (with tongs) to the tray and swirl them around in the butter and herb mixture.
                                                              You can then put them on pasta, or just chow down with a nice baguette.
                                                              Easy to do and great for a large group of people, too!
                                                              If you want more details, go to: www.livethelive.com!