The past week has been a whirlwind of dinners, gatherings, and parties. It feels as if we’ve gone out every night, but thankfully we’ve still managed to sleep and eat just fine, as you might imagine. We went from a beautiful Saturday afternoon out on the lawn of Prospect Park for the GoogaMooga food festival, to delicious 50 cent wing night in Bed-Stuy, to planning and shooting a video for Handsome Dan’s Candy Stand (get excited and visit if you’re ever in Williamsburg) with Matt, all with a few happy hours in between as we enjoy Kramer’s last week of a break from school before he goes back for the summer session (he’s such a hard worker). That’s what summer is for, I suppose, but maybe this week will be a chance for us to slow down a bit, hang out at home, and for the love of all things that are holy, finish watching Arrested Development’s new season. We’re almost done, but still, I’m slightly disappointed in our slow performance this time around. Don’t worry, we’ll get there.
Anyway, enough with all the sentimental blubbering, right? Rachel is going to do great in Phoenix, Kramer and I are going to keep on keepin’ on in Brooklyn, and all is well with the world…minus the heat. It’s actually been beautiful and breezy the past few days, but I know that gross, thick humidity is just around the corner (we had a little last week), and when that time comes, all I can think about is fresh, cold, raw seafood. I don’t want anything cooked when my hair is frizzing out three feet above my head and I feel like I could cut the hot New York air with a knife. Kramer and I usually head over to Maison Premiere (and Rachel would come, too – boo hoo) for an oyster fix when we needed it, but we’ll order a small side of clams sometimes, too. When I saw some fresh ones for purchase the other day, I thought, hey, let’s shuck some clams at home! Fun! Wrong. I am super bad at shucking clams. I don’t know why I thought that it would be just like an oyster, but I feel like these were way harder to open. Kramer and I watched a bunch of YouTube videos and read about it, but there’s nothing like a ton of practice to make you good at shucking clams. I’m still not great at it, but after about ten clams and some choice words, I was able to do it at an alright pace. It’s kind of fun to sit there, cursing that damned clam, because when it finally opens, nothing can make you happier. I feel like Rachel would have loved to be right there with us, frustrated and laughing as we pathetically tried to open clam after clam. I will say, though, that once they are opened, they are just what you want on a hot summer day. Cold, slightly salty, and refreshing, especially with my apple and ginger mignonette sauce on top. If you’re looking for a project this summer, grab some clams and gives shucking a try. Even if you’re not good at it, like me, it’s still fun to try and I promise, you’ll eventually get the hang of it.
Rachel and me at GoogaMooga.
And me being sad that she’s leaving.
Alright, so, the mignonette part is easy. Just dice your apple, mince your shallot, and mince your ginger.
Then add your rice wine vinegar, mirin, red pepper flakes, a pinch of salt, and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir and set aside.
Now the shucking part. As you can see, it can be frustrating for a new comer. The idea, and you can see it up there, is that you want to take a blunt knife and stick it in the back of the clam where the two halves of the shell come to together at a bit of a point. Push the knife in there to separate the two shells, then move it around to the front and wedge the knife up to finally separate the shells entirely. Use a towel and remember that it takes more than a bit of elbow grease. Don’t give up!
See? I knew you could do it!
- ¼ an apple, diced into pieces small enough to fit into a clam shell
- ½ a shallot, minced
- 1 1-inch piece of ginger, minced
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon mirin
- 1 healthy pinch red pepper flakes
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 small pinch kosher salt
- fresh clams, cleaned and chilled
- a large plate/bowl of ice, for setting the clams on top of
- lemon wedges
- Combine all of your mignonette ingredients, stir, and set aside on the counter or in the fridge until you're ready to use it.
- For the clams, you can clean them by placing them in a large bowl of cold water with ½ cup cornstarch to help draw out any sand. Let them soak in the fridge for 1 hour, then remove each one one by one, scrub to remove any leftover bits of grit or sand, and begin shucking.
- To shuck the clam, pick one up and grab a blunt knife (like a butter knife). There is a pointy end where the shell seems to come together to form a seal. Take the knife and stick it through the shell here; you will have to use some force and I highly recommend holding the clam with a towel so you don't accidentally cut yourself. Push the knife up through here, then, keeping it in between the two shells, bring it around all the way along the clam, until you can wedge the knife up between the two thinner parts at the front and open the clam entirely. Twist apart the top shell, scrape off any meat from the top, and place the clam on the half shell on your plate of ice. If this is your first clam shucking experience, as it was mine, just keep trying and I know you will get the hang of it eventually! Serve with a little teaspoon for the mignonette and enjoy immediately, preferably with a cocktail.