Grilled Clams

I do enjoy going to the fishmonger. I may go in with something in mind but I always leave with something else entirely. One of my last visits is a case in point.

This particular Tuesday I went shopping for chicken. My fishmonger is the only place in town that I know of where you can buy fresh, never frozen, organic chicken. I left with a chicken — and a little more than a pound of “Vancouver blue clams”. I just couldn’t resist them.

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Preview Clams

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These clams were small — about the size of manila clams — and there were 36 of the beauties in my purchase. Best of all, they’re mighty tasty. In fact, I’m already thinking of going back for more.

Once home, I decided to try something different. Believe me. Deciding not to cook them with linguine was one of the toughest culinary decisions I’ve made in a very long time. Even so, having watched a number of chefs grill clams, I thought I’d give it a try myself. The chefs placed the clams directly upon the grill grates, let them open, and then carefully removed them to a serving platter. That wouldn’t work for me.

Being so small, I envisioned watching them open and spilling their delicious juices on to the flames. They’re simply not large enough to comfortably ride the grates. Worse, any liquids to have survived the opening would surely be dumped as I clumsily tried to move the clams to a platter. A cast iron skillet was the answer. First, though, the clams had to be cleaned.

Using my food brush, the clams’ shells were scrubbed clean. After that, they were placed in a bowl of cold, fresh water and left to soak for almost an hour. Midway through, the water was dumped and the bowl refilled. That gave the clams plenty of time to expel any sand. Clams that refused to close were discarded.

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Blue Clams 1

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The grill was lit and the flames set to high. Meanwhile, a lemon-butter sauce was prepared using 4 tbsp butter, the juice of 1/2 lemon, and 1 clove of garlic, smashed. The butter and garlic were gently heated in a small saucepan. When the butter just started to simmer, the lemon juice was added and the heat was shut off. The garlic was allowed to steep in the lemon-butter for a few minutes.

Next, a 10 inch cast iron skillet was placed on the grill directly over the flames. While it heated, some fresh parsley was chopped and a chunk of ciabatta bread was sliced in half. The cut side of both pieces was lightly coated with olive oil and the bread was set aside.

The clams were drained and returned to the bowl, along with a couple of ounces of both white wine and water. By now, the pan was screaming hot. The clams with the wine mixture were poured into the pan and the bread was placed on the grill to toast a bit. The grill lid was then closed.

Back in the kitchen, the garlic was removed from the lemon-butter sauce and the pan was returned to a low heat.

It took barely 2 minutes for the bread to toast, I removed both pieces and the clams were already opening. Within 5 minutes, all the clams were open and were quickly removed to a serving bowl. The pan liquids were added, as well. (Note: be sure to discard any clams that remain unopened after cooking.)

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Grilled Clams 1

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To serve, the bottom piece of bread was placed in a bowl and topped with some clams and a bit of the pan juices. The lemon-butter sauce was poured over the dish and fresh parsley was used to garnish. The top side of the toasted ciabatta bread was served on the side.

Yeah. I’m going back for more clams, but it’s anyone’s guess what else I’ll bring home.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

LingClams_Lrg300

Nothing but a Pasta with Clams recipe would be appropriate here. It is one of my favorite dishes and one I’m sure you’ll enjoy. You can see how the dish is prepared simply by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Sepia e Calamari in Umido Preview

Stewed Cuttlefish and Squid

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100 thoughts on “Grilled Clams

  1. Oh John, to have a local fishmonger would be so great! Although we do go to one when we vacation on our RV property on the Oregon Coast and get totally fresh caught oysters or halibut or ling cod (ling cod is my favorite!). Here in town in land-locked Central Oregon, we do though get some fresh seafood at some of the local indie groceries, but pretty high-priced to be flown in over the mountains same-day. Your clams look so very delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I only found this monger a couple of years ago — and am I ever glad I did. All of the fish he offers are sustainable and marked when frozen (F) or pre-frozen and thawed (PF). Very little of it is marked like that, though. We’re 1000 miles from the coast so, like your fresh fish, it can be expensive. I’m on the mailing list and shop the sales. The clams, though, were a surprise. Believe me, I’ll rush to the place the next time he has them.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love those clams . . . please do not buy many more until I get there for that ‘taste test’! I so would love to go ‘shopping’ with you and for you and come home with ‘whatever’ . . .yum !!!! OK: Max and I would have to have a quiet talk and shake our heads and say ‘well, whatever we can pinch from that pan, that will be ok’ 😀 !! And it would be 🙂 !!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Eha. I’m afraid I cannot do that. These were just too good to go without for too long. When you do come for a visit, however, I promise to scour the city in search of fresh clams for you. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

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    • This place is a real gem, Jasline. He supplies many of the seafood restaurants in town. He even has a few tables where you can order lunch or dinner. It was a lucky day that I found the place.

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  3. What a great way to prepare those clams! Did the grill impart any additional flavor?
    Didn’t know chicken was considered to be a fish in Chicago. Unless it was a gurnard, which in Italian is called “galinella” (literally chicken, because it has a similar thing hanging under its head)?
    We love linguine alle vongole so I can see why it was a hard decision. But they are also great with bread to “fa la scarpetta” with the juices. It’s also nice to make a “rosso” version with passata. The juices are not crowded out by the tomato and it becomes a whole new flavor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This monger, Stefan, has a number of non-seafood items, much to my delight. He carries farm fresh chicken and duck eggs, asparagus, ramps, and mushrooms. He may also have wagyu beef, as well as an assortment of chowders and seafood “burgers”. I look forward to getting his weekly newsletter to see what’s in supply. I received his newsletter today and he has “button” clams. I think there’s a dish of linguine alle vongole in my immediate future. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oops! I failed to mention about the effects of grilling, I used a gas grill, so, the effects weren’t noticeable. They are atop the fire for such a short period of time, Stefan, that I wonder if a charcoal grill would make a difference. I do have a small smoker box for the grill and will try that next time. Still, I don’t think it will matter much.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Chicken at the fishmonger’s? How interesting! I’ve seen fish at the butcher’s, but never meat at the fishmongers!!!
    You grilled clams sound wonderful; I’ve only ever had clams with linguine or chowder, but I’m sure I would love this simple, straight-forward dish. In France we have a variety of “clam-looking” shells (coques, palourdes, amandes, etc. including a thing which is often labelled “clams” or “vongole”, which I suppose are what the French think are the best suited for chowder and/or linguine, but are not usually the freshest as they are imported from God knows where). I suppose any nice and fresh roundish shell would work here…

    Liked by 1 person

    • This place is fantastic, Darya. It’s really not that large but he carries a nice assortment of seafood and a variety of other things, like fresh organic chicken and wagyu beef. I always find something unexpected when I go there and that’s what keeps me coming back for more. 🙂

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  5. In Japan, it is very common to grill (directly on fire) shell fishes such as clams, scallops, abalones … I never had ones grilled on cast iron skillet with wonderful, aromatic seasonings. It looks so good that I may be able to eat the entire content of the skillet in one sitting!!! 🙂

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    • If I weren’t so clumsy, Fae, I may have attempted to place them right on the grill plate but I know my limits. I would have spilt most of their juices trying to remove them to the serving dish. This did have it’s benefits, though. As you mentioned, using a pan enabled me to add some flavorings while they cooked. It worked out pretty well. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Lovely appetite creating writing …..and I’m envious of the overhead shot of the clams. Our town is full of clams and oysters most of the time but particularly during this season….I have to do this recipe and I thoughts of clams/oysters and wood fired ovens are burgeoning:)

    Liked by 1 person

    • You poor deprived woman! You can fix these as I did on a barbecue or atop your stove. Just cover the pan if you cook them on the stove top. Once they’ve opened, you can serve them as I did here or use the clams and juices to dress a dish of linguine. It doesn’t get much better. 🙂

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  7. Even I like to personally shop for fish from the local market. i am never satisfied when someone else does the fish shopping. The clam recipe is very good. i am waiting by my monitor for the next release because the cuttlefish promo looks very promising. should be a blockbuster hit 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Those clams are so pretty! Don’t think I’ve ever seen them before. Tough to resist adding them to pasta, I know — linguine with clams is so rightly a classic. But they look wonderful prepared this way! Fun that your fish monger sells fresh chickens. Our favorite wine merchant sells fresh, free-range organic eggs! Weird. But welcome. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’d not seen them before either, John, I even googled them but couldn’t find them. It wasn’t until they opened did I see the reason for the name. They are a beautiful clam, or maybe that’s my taste buds talking. To my eye … er … taste buds … there are few things that I cook as beautiful as a panful of clams just opening, Thanks, John. Your comments are alway welcome.

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  9. My fishmonger sells free range eggs – a chicken connection too! I love clams cooked like this (athough in Spain it’s olive oil instead of butter as the butter in the south rarely survives the heat), absolutely gorgeous way of preparing them. I love slurping them out of the shells and dipping my bread in the juices. You can’t help but get messy but that’s part of the pleasure!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sound like the cooking methods in Spain where you live mirrors that of southern Italy and Sicily. Further north on the peninsula is cooler and that’s where the dairy herds are and butter is more prevalent. Either way, this is a great dish and so easy to prepare. As for the slurping, an advantage to living alone is that one can slurp to one’s heart’s content — and I take full advantage. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I would never have known how to properly grill clams! I like to use my grandmother’s iron skillet whenever possible and grilled clams would be such a treat for my husband, who loves them. He adores linguine with clams, too, but mostly when we eat at our favorite Italian restaurant. I think both the grilled and the linguine recipes are so clear that I could do this and not make a mess of things. It’s great that you’ve already made a friend of your fishmonger and can be so confident in the quality. Delicious, John!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You cannot go wrong with either recipe, Debra. Both are very simple with common, panty ingredients. And the results are fantastic! The aroma alone will drive you nuts.
      I try to make conversation with all the “counter” workers: at the fish monger, the fish and meat departments at the groceries, the deli workers, the butchers, even the pastry women. It is amazing how appreciative they all are to be treated civilly and with respect. Mom taught us right! 🙂

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  11. Too funny about the fishmonger and the chicken. And I love the line: “Deciding not to cook them with linguine was one of the toughest culinary decisions I’ve made in a very long time.” But boy do those clams look great!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. When I was a kid we would drive to the clam flats an spend a day digging clams and head home for a feast. I enjoyed digging more than eating back in those days but it was great fun.

    Your clams look very inviting!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That sounds like great fun for a family, Maureen. I only went clamming once. We were visiting our Long Island relatives. We picked an off day and nothing was to be found. None on the beach and none for dinner. I think my love of clams is, on some level, my attempt to make up for that day. 🙂

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  13. Great idea grilling the clams in a cast iron skillet. We too always come home from the fishmonger with extras. Which more often than not end up making a wonderful simple seafood pasta dish, so why not!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, EllaDee. Rarely do I go there because I’m entertaining and need a specific item. My daily menus are variable and a trip to the fishmonger means something unexpected for dinner that night, with there being a pretty good chance of some sort of pasta gracing my table. 🙂

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    • In’t that something? Local customs regarding food can seem so unusual. My Dad’s Mother refused to eat corn of the cob, thinking it was food for pigs. I guess this means you’ll have to put clams on your to-do list next time you get away to NYC. 🙂

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  14. Such a wonderful simple yet scrumptious recipe! What a fun fish monger, I wish we had a place like that here and we are relatively close to the coast. Time to hunt one down again. The boys would go crazy for this dish!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I thanked my lucky stars the day I found this place, Gretchen. It’s a great little spot but don’t let it’s size fool you. They’ve plenty of seafood and a number of seasonal ingredients, too, from asparagus to mushrooms to ramps. There’s wagyu beef and Tunisian olive oil, too. I never really know what to expect and love going there.
      Are you near a Costco? Mine sometimes has littlenecks in the fish department, as well as mussels. There are far too many in a package for my needs but they may be just enough for your hungry family. And I’d love to read the reviews. 🙂

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  15. I can only imagine the angst over not choosing the linguini and clams! Still it looks like your choice was rewarded. The grilled clams over toast sounds perfect! You know we would all devour these. Clams (and mussels) are among our favorites!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chicago isn’t so close to the seashore. It’s about 1600 km away. Our fresh seafood can be expensive, as a result. The only moral for me here is to never make dinner plans for the day I go to the fishmonger. 🙂

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  16. OMG that looks so delicious. Did you notice any difference in taste from grilling them? I usually don’t buy clams because they are so small and fussy but this recipe makes it difficult to resist. When you mentioned putting the little guys directly on the grill, I gasped because I thought, like you, all those gorgeous clam juices going to waste. Not to mention, they would probably dry out. It’s been so mild here in Toronto, we’ve been able to use the grill without having to shovel pounds of snow off it. This recipe looks like it would make a wonder appetizer for a group of people, just sitting around and eating clams, perfect for the holiday season. Organic, never frozen chicken from a fishmonger? That’s different!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I use a propane grill, Eva, and with such a hot pan, the clams were cooked in minutes. Next time, I’l use the little smoking box and get it going really good before adding the clams. Even then, though, I don’t see them taking on much flavor. They really cook fast. I think the real strength of this dish is the presentation, Most don’t expect you to bring a cast iron pan filled with steaming clams from the grill to the table.
      That monger has a variety of seasonal mushrooms, wagyu beef, eggs, ramps. asparagus, olive oil, fresh coffee beans. He even has a few tables for lunch or an early supper. I’m telling you, Eva, it was a very lucky day when I first walked into the place. 🙂

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  17. This sounds so good! I’ve never eaten much seafood although I like it. I didn’t grow up with it, then my kids hated it, and now one of my good friends has a life-threatening shellfish allergy so I figure it’s just best not to have it in the house. It’s a ‘going out’ kind of food for me. Except this recipe makes me want to fire up the grill!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do love my clams, Mar, and would have a very hard time coping with a shellfish allergy. If ever you want to try a great dish, this is the one to prepare. It is so easy and the payoff is a delicious dish.Not only that, but you’ll make quite an entrance to the table carrying a cast iron skillet filled with steaming clams. 🙂

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  18. This looks quite straightforward. A person just can’t go wrong with a lemon-butter-garlic sauce!

    The fishmonger sounds like a fellow who really understands good food. It’s always a blessing to know people like that – they make the world around them a better place, no?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t agree more, Ruth. I’ve met the owner on several occasions and he is very much into providing good, fresh foods to his customers. I try to throw as much business his way that I can, although i doubt he needs it. Restaurants here in town have “caught on” and many now go to him. Love to see good things happen to good people.

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  19. buona domenica John, da buona italiana apprezzo moltissimo le vongole e le ho cucinate e gustate in moltissimi modi diversi, ma alla griglia davvero mai! Apprezzo molto la tua cucina, ma anche l’amore che metti nelle descrizioni, questo ti rende l’ore del grande amore che hai verso questo tipo di arte del cucinare!
    Ti ringrazio molto dei tuoi preziosi insegnamenti!
    🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grazie mille, Ventis.
      When I visit Italy, I always make sure to enjoy linguine con le vongole at least once while I am there. The clams are so very sweet. I wish that I could get some here in the States.
      Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!

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  20. I love the bowl your cuttlefish is in – very pretty. I’m impressed you can buy such good quality chicken from a fishmonger! Your clam dish has some very simple flavours that must really add but not overpower the flavour of the clams xx

    Liked by 1 person

  21. It is funny how we automatically like to fall back on the classics and comfort food we know and love when we see an ingredient! I am afraid I’m really terrible with that. Good for you though, trying something different. They turned out lovely. As you know I’m not a big seafood fan and am also not sure which seafood I’m allergic to! But, I have had clams in pasta and stuff and I quite like them! I’m just a little afraid of my shopping ability where seafood is concerned.
    Needless to say…I don’t have a trusted fish monger for my chicken 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Too bad you live so far away, Nazneen. I’d love to take you to my fishmonger and cook you a batch of clams. If you enjoyed them with pasta in the past, i doubt that you’d have a problem with them grilled. We’d have to stop at the bakery, too. You can’t sit down to a bowl of clams with lemon butter sauce and not have some crusty bread in hand. Ever think of moving to Chicago? 🙂

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  22. I am the grill queen around here, but I have never grilled clams … oh my goodness, I HAVE TO MAKE THIS as soon as the temps climb above 40°. We’ve had a bit of biting weather here which means the grill is on vacation. Really, John, this looks amazing and is on my list!

    Liked by 1 person

    • All hail the Queen!
      You really do need to try this, Judy. The look on your dinner companios’ faces as you bring the steaming skillet to the table is well worth it. And, really, you cannot go wrong serving just about anything with garlic and butter sauce. This dish is a treat, all way ’round.

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  23. So jealous of your fishmonger!!! Beautiful clams! I’ve never had grilled clams before but since I do love clams I can imagine how good these are. Thanks for the information on how to prep them with the cold water soak. Was not aware that you discard those that don’t close. Beautiful dish!
    Fixing to sign off for 2015 but I want to wish you and your lovely family an absolutely wonderful Holiday Season!!! See you in 2016!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Clams can be wily, all right. If they don’t close tight when you clean them, or, don’t open when you cook them, toss them out. There’s a good chance they’re not alive. You do not want to eat a clam that wasn’t fit for cooking. I’ve gone doentha path and it was not at all a pleasant experience.
      Enjoy your time away, MJ, and I hope you and yours have a most memorable Holiday!

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    • Thanks, Betsy. As Abbe mentioned in the next comment, Costco sometimes has fresh shellfish. She’s found cockles and I’ve bought littlenecks from them. Mine also carries mussels. If you’ve a Costco nearby, you might get lucky .. um .. that doesn’t sound right but you know what I mean. 🙂
      I hope you have a very special Christmas, Betsy, surrounded by all whom you hold dear.

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  24. I actually got lucky and scored New Zealand cockles yesterday at Costco. They were quite pretty and very cute when they opened and closed. I quite hated eating them-until I did. So good and though i didn’t cook them over the grill you can bet that idea will be lurkig in the back of my head for next time. Have a Merry Christmas John!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you,Abbe. yes, I, too, have bought shellfish from Costco. I never know if they’re going to have any, however, so buying some usually means changing my dinner plans for that night. Nothing wrong with that, as far as I’m concerned, when there are fresh clams involved.
      I hope you and your family have a healthy and prosperous 2016, Abbe.

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  25. Buona sera John! Love grilled clams and also grilled abalone. Have you ever tried abalone grilled? Always good to have a good fish monger. Mine does not speak a word of English so that is challenging on most days.. LOL Wishing you a very safe and merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Buona notte, BAM! I’ve not tried grilled abalone. It’s not so easily found here. I will start looking for it, though., The last time I had it was ages ago in Key West. About time I tried it again, eh? One of the mongers I frequent speaks only Italian. Somehow, we conduct business. I brought Zia there one day and, wouldn’t you know it, he was away that day. A nephew was in his place. An English speaking nephew. I think Zia enjoyed seeing him more. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Oh YUM! I dig the use of two types of canned tomatoes and your exhortation to tear the whole tomatoes by hand – I do love a bit of rustic chunkiness. Also intrigued by the placing of the bread in the bowl first, to soak up all those lovely juices. We’re having fish and salads on Christmas day (a simple baked salmon) as the weather is stinking around these parts at this time of year. Have a most enjoyable Christmas John, and a very merry New Year. Thanks for giving us some excellent reading this year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Saskia. I don’t think the weather we both each experience at Christmas could be more opposite — though this year it is unseasonably warm. The idea of spending Christmas Day at the beach or on a picnic is just so out of the realm of possibility here. Spend time outdoors? Even though bundled up, we do our best to get indoors as quickly as possible. Even so, I bet your salmon dish would be welcome around here. We Bartolini do love our seafood!
      I hope you and your wonderful family share a beautiful Christmas with much joy in the new year.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. How on earth did I miss this post?! I adore clams, they are such a wonderful treat. I have noticed in recent years that they are becoming more difficult to find in Sydney, which is such a shame. This dish looks incredible, such a modern classic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks and I’m with ya! I love clams in just about every way you might serve them. The look on your dinner mates faces when you bring a pan of sizzling clams to the table from the barbecue is priceless. 🙂

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