An Indoor Clam Bake & The Bluefish Blues

8 Jun

Saturday, despite the torrential downpours, was Greenmarket day. Perhaps it was the wet atmosphere, but I decided it was fish day too. I cruised by the fish stand that’s usually sold out of everything by the time I arrive, but because of the rain (I guess) they had nearly everything still! I settled on some bluefish and 2 dozen little neck clams.

I had no idea what I was going to do with my piscine pretties, so I just wandered around and bought stuff that looked appealing. Green tomatoes. Itty bitty teeny weeny red, white and blue new potatoes. Green garlic. Green onions. Streaky, streaky bacon.

As I was scurrying about, dodging tourists, puppies and raindrops, I ran into the boy’s sister. She’s here for the summer doing an internship at Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Her dorm is right on Union Square, so I guess I better get used to running into here while provisioning! But the thing about running into the little sister of your boyfriend who’s here in the most expensive city doing an internship for the summer while you’re buying stuff for a yumtastic dinner is that, well, you kinda have to ask her over to join in on the festivities (no matter how small your apartment is).

The boy was the one that made the official offer and asked if it was cool, and well, yes, it actually was totally cool because I had forgotten two key elements for dinner: 1. lemons and 2. white wine. She came over, she surfed the web, we laughed, drank some wine I realised I needed some canned corn. So off the boy went to the bodega while I tried to get the clams to purge their sand.

Finally I had everything I needed. I popped the vege into the oven to roast. Pulled it out, added the clams and bacon wrapped fish. Pulled that out and marveled at it’s indoors clam bake-y goodness!

The only bummer about this dinner is that the very next day I popped over to visit Megnut’s site (after meeting her at a lovely do held by Sam of Becks & Posh), and *whamo* see this post. Apparently it’s NOT okay to eat bluefish. Like, at all. Never. Bluefish are BAD for you. Full of PCBs, mercury and pesticides. To the point where the good folks at Oceans Alive say that even one serving a month is not recommended. *siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh* Bluefish is a much maligned fish. It’s stinky, it’s oily, but I love it. I guess I’ll have to find a new “trash” fish to love. Maybe mackerel (stupid Times Select) will be my new go to fish.

Clams are the most beautiful, tasty bivalve out there (or maybe it’s just me). Either way, head below the clams for the recipe for the rainy day indoor clam bake (minus the bluefish).
Is it just me, or are clams the most beautiful, tasty seafood out there?

An Indoor Clam Bake

prep time: 45 minutes ~ cooking time: 1 hour

  • 2 bunches small Green Onions
  • 2 bunches Green Garlic
  • 1/2 lb. very small new Potatoes (any color)
  • 1 lb. Green Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small can Corn or even better, the kernels off a few ears of Corn
  • Thyme
  • Sage, cut into ribbons (aka chiffonade)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt & Pepper
  • good, happy, artisinal streaky Bacon
  • Fish fillets (bluefish is bad, so maybe, Sardines, Mackerel, Salmon (wild preferably) or Sturgeon)
  • 1 Lemon cut in half and then cut into very fine half-moons, pips removed
  • 2 dozen Littleneck Clams
  • Cornmeal
  • White Wine

Heat your oven to 400#°F.  In a large, ovenproof dish mix the onions, garlic, potatoes, tomatoes and corn.  Season with salt & pepper, add thyme and sage to taste (I love them both, so I used lots).  Coat with a few glugs of olive.  Mix all to coat.  Pop the whole lot in the oven and allow to roast about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, address the fishies.

Scrub clams well and place in a large bowl.  Cover with cold tap water.  Float a small handful of cornmeal on the surface of the water.  The cornmeal will encourage your clams to eat. (Apparently they love cornmeal!)  You want this to happen because the clams have to purge any sand they’re carrying in order to  chow down.  Corn-fed clams taste better and aren’t gritty.  You should let them eat for about 15-20 minutes.  When they’re done, drain in a colander and rinse to remove cornmeal.
Wash your fish fillets or fishies (if you’re using sardines) and flavor with pepper only.  If using fillets, cut into individual servings and wrap each serving in two pieces of bacon.  (If using sardines, I guess its your choice… stuff their bellies?  Wrap in bacon from head to tail?  The possibilities are endless!)

In a small skillet over a high flame sear the bacon wrapped fishies one at a time and set aside.

When the vegetables have roasted long enough that they’re beginning to look cooked through (about half an hour) pull the dish out of the oven.  Add a layer of the thinly sliced lemons, add the clams, pour in about a 1/2 cup white wine and finally place the bacon wrapped fish on top and wrap in heavy duty aluminium foil.
Place back into the oven and allow to roast about another 20-30 minutes.

Pull the dish out (carefully), remove the foil (carefully).  Place the fish on a plate to the side.

Portion out the vegetables and clams in bowls, place a fish fillet on top and serve with crusty bread to sop up all the juices.

Yum!

Cooks Note: Some of you may scoff at cooking clams this long.  Conventional wisdom holds that clams need only 4-5 minutes to cook. Yes, this is true, but cooking them this long and in this way makes them a little more toothsome and tasty.  The edges become slightly chewy and take on a wonderful texture, much like, well, bacon!

6 Responses to “An Indoor Clam Bake & The Bluefish Blues”

  1. Sher June 8, 2006 at 4:58 pm #

    So sorry about the sinus infection–I’ve had those myself. Not fun! Did they give you one of the really gnarly antibiotics? The clams look wonderful!!!!! I love them.

  2. Victoria June 8, 2006 at 6:26 pm #

    ok..now i’m reeally waiting for an invite!!! ;) no more small apt excuses!! tee-hee!

  3. Pam June 9, 2006 at 12:42 am #

    Get well soon!!!

    I’ve never eaten clams but I love mussels, are they similar in flavour? These photo’s really make me want to try some!

  4. ann June 9, 2006 at 7:40 am #

    *gasp* never eaten clams? okay, total overreaction… mussles v. clams. mussles, to me, are mealy and insipid, whereas clams are a little smaller, a little more toothsome and they have that lovely iodine-y flavor that to my braind equals “ocean”
    god, i love clams. i think after mushrooms, my second favorite food would be clams!

    and yes, vic, you can come over… anytime you want!

  5. Julie June 10, 2006 at 9:36 am #

    I’m one of those bluefish maligners — except for smoked bluefish — but everything else about this clambake sounds really, truly delicious. What a great meal for a rainy day.

  6. melissa_cookingdiva June 30, 2006 at 6:43 am #

    The clams look fantastic :-)

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