Let’s go back in time
Rewind back to Laura’s childhood birthdays: grandpa wouldn’t buy presents but cook her favorite dishes as a gift instead (maybe that is why she’s such a glutton 😝). Without a doubt, on the birthday menu you would find steamed razor clams covered in ginger, spring onion and soy sauce, alongside grandpa’s scrumptious lobster noodle - it beats all restaurant versions Laura has had and will deserve a post of its own once we master re-creating the flavours.
When we were at the fishmongers a few weeks back Foo spotted some razor clams that looked really fresh. Despite being from a place where there’s plenty of razor clams to harvest, Foo has not had them much, and never with the classic cantonese recipe. We decided to get some on the spot to re-create Laura’s childhood razor clam dish.
With seafood, the bulk of your time should be spent cleaning and prepping the specimen for cooking. The actual cooking process is relatively fast for most seafood dishes and the main challenge is to not overcook your specimen otherwise you result in some chewy mess - no one wants that.
Razor clams require some prep, you’ll need to scour along the joining with a knife to open them up and then give them a wash and clean on the inside. You also need to remove the residual gut dirt that has not been purged and that is the least fun part. Luckily, this step is not required with normal clams.
Tip: No more gritty clamsWith clams, you should always reserve some time to let them purge the grit/sand, this is easy to do as you can just leave them in salted cold water and watch them spit out all the dirt. Leave them in the salt water for at least 20 mins. Remember to scrub the shell with any kitchen scrubbing device you own. Lifting the clams out of the water instead of draining them will ensure the grit stays in the bottom of the bowl.
Once the cleaning is done, the dish is relatively simple: steam the razor clams with a base layer of pre-soaked vermicelli noodles to absorb the cooking juices and sauce. The sauce is a simple soy sauce base with smashed garlic and some chopped chilli, spooned into each open clam and topped with a sprinkle of green onion - finely chopped for brightness. Steaming is great as you preserve the clam juices in the shell and the noodles really soak up all the flavour, simple yet delicious.
Next time, we want to tweak the sauce base and add a splash of chinese cooking wine and sesame oil to see if we can bring the recipe to the next level.
Did someone say Vongole?
One dish that is an ultimate crowd pleaser and so comforting is Vongole. This Linguine with Vongole from BA recipe is one to save to make for friends and family - sod it, make it for yourself!
Why is this Vongole so good you ask? Well it has a sh*t ton of garlic goodness and handmade breadcrumbs from a good loaf gives a wonderful texture. The zesty lemon grated into the breadcrumb mix really brightens the dish and gives it that zing zing wow. Clam juices simmer in the sauce base and the succulent meaty clams give a glorious bite with each mouthful of linguine. The subtle hint of mild fresh chilli is another bright note that wakes up the taste buds and keeps you going back for another forkful. Salty anchovies are one of Laura’s favorite ingredients that impart savoriness and umami to the sauce base - don’t worry about the fishiness, this dissipates once cooked out in the white wine.
We have tried to make the Vongole with papperdelle when we had no linguine in the cupboard. Whilst the sauce is absorbed beautifully into the papperdelle, we prefer linguine as it has a chewiness when al-dente that is the perfect texture for this dish.
A fantastic paring wine with this dish is Terre Silvate (2018), a white wine from Marche, a region in central Italy: its mineral notes and cleanness goes well with seafood. Laura loves the gorgeous straw yellow hue and the fuller mouth feel.
Hopefully this inspires you to go grab some clams and get cooking.