This delicious recipe is very simple to make. All you need are some raw clams and the makings of cocktail sauce. If you prefer, you can buy cocktail sauce, but it is so simple to prepare you might as well make your own. The clams in this recipe are served raw. Clams which are harvested from approved waters, processed in sanitary conditions, and then refrigerated properly are safe to eat raw if you are healthy.
The waters where they are harvested are monitored, so if they become contaminated commercial shellfish harvesting there becomes prohibited. If you are harvesting your own clams recreationally, only pick them from safe, harvesting-approved waters. Cocktail sauce is a lovely spicy condiment made with ketchup, lemon juice, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce. Use any kind of ketchup for this; you do not have to spend more on the top brand names. Increase the amount of horseradish you add if you prefer a spicier taste.
If you usually turn your clams into chowders or incorporate them with spaghetti or pasta, why not try this clams on the half shell recipe? You will be able to enjoy the pure flavor of clams, adding lemon juice or cocktail sauce only if you like. Taste the first one without lemon or cocktail sauce though, to discover the pure, natural clam flavor.
- 24 fresh littleneck clams
- Crushed ice or rock salt
- 4 lemon wedges, to serve
- ½ cup ketchup
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- 2½ tablespoons horseradish
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- Combine the cocktail sauce ingredients and let the sauce sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
- Scrub the clams under cold running water using a stiff brush to get off any dirt.
- Fold a durable thick towel over a few times to make a square.
- Using the folded towel as a mitt, hold the clam in the palm of your towel-covered hand.
- Insert the tip of a clam knife (or an oyster knife) between the shell halves.
- Work it around one side to the other and pry it open.
- Have a small bowl underneath to catch the juices.
- Cut the muscles away from the top shell and bend the shell back.
- Discard the top shell.
- Run the knife underneath the clam so it detaches completely, taking care not to cut the meat, and leave it in the shell.
- Repeat with the remaining clams.
- Tip the clam juice from each clam into the bowl and then pour it back over the shucked clams.
- Nestle them in a bed of rock salt or crushed ice to keep them steady.
- Serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.
Served on a bed of ice with a pot of cocktail sauce and a lemon wedge, this makes an impressive gourmet appetizer. Preparing raw clams on the half shell is very easy. Basically you just have to open them! The trick is ensuring the clams are well-scrubbed before you open them, to avoid getting any grit inside, and making a clean, tidy incision so you can present them professionally. Get a few extra ones if this is your first time preparing raw clams, in case the first ones do not come out quite right. After a little practice you will be able to open the clams quickly and with no fuss.
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