Category Archives: Shellfish

Grilled Razor Clams with Garlic and Parsley

couteauxpI love razor clams for their delicate taste, still recognisable in the presence of strong seasoning, and, most of all, for their texture: soft, but slightly al dente. For years, imagining they were tricky to prepare and/or clean, I was too scared to buy them and ruin the whole big bunch (they are sold in bunches here). Last weekend I finally dared cooking them for the first time and… they turned out to be the best razor clams of my life! I still cannot believe such a simple process yields such outstanding results. You can easily serve them as a starter, as a light main course with a salad or simply have them as a gourmet snack (which begs for a glass of chilled rosé!).

For this first experience with razor clams I didn’t use any particular recipe. I simply chose the most popular French way to serve this shellfish, i.e. grilled with a mixture of parsley, garlic and butter. Some recipes also add some breadcrumbs for an additional crunch, but I chose to skip them this time. There is also a choice between seasoning the clams before the grilling process and after. I preferred to add parsley butter before. As much as I didn’t search a precise recipe, I did look well for best ways to clean the clams. Luckily salt water soaking was cited everywhere as the best way to get rid of sand (the laziest seafood cleaning method I can imagine).

TIPS: You can use only olive oil in the parsley mixture and skip the butter.

Preparation: about 30 minutes + 1 hour soaking

Ingredients (serves two as a main course or four as a starter):

500 – 600 g razor clams

several tablespoons salt

extra virgin olive oil

(freshly ground pepper)

Parsley and garlic butter:

2 tablespoons softened butter

about two handfuls of roughly chopped parsley leaves

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 teaspoon salt

Place the razor clams into a big bowl filled with cold salted water (count at least two tablespoons per litre) and leave them for one hour. This way they will get rid of their sand (hopefully!).

In the meantime prepare the parsley butter, mixing the garlic, the butter, the salt and the parsley leaves in a food processor.

Wash the razor clams in cold water and rinse well.

Place them in an empty pan at medium heat and warm until all of them open up (you can put a lid to accelerate the process, but usually it takes about 3 minutes).

Do this in several batches, so that you don’t overcrowd the pan. Drain on paper towels. (Don’t worry if some of them fall completely out of their shells, you will put them back into their homes afterwards).

Remove the upper shell’s part (it’s not necessary, but this part is completely useless and takes space on a baking tray). Place the open razor clams in a baking dish/tray on their shell’s lower part and brush with garlicky butter.

Heat the oven grill/broiler and grill them until the garlic bits start becoming golden (this should take about ten minutes). Make sure the garlic doesn’t brown too much; it will become bitter.

You can also grill them in a normal grill and spread the garlic butter juste before serving.

Sprinkle them with olive oil while they are still hot and serve them simply with good quality bread or baguette (you can also season them with ground pepper).

 

Mussels in White Wine (Moules à la marinière)

This is a 10-minute, absolutely foolproof and simply the best mussels recipe I know. Moules à la marinière, as its name suggests it, are a French recipe, served in many traditional restaurants, usually with chips. Apparently the French are the biggest mussels consumers in the world (they buy as much as 80 000 tons of mussels per year!). “Marinière” is the method of cooking shellfish in onions or shallots and white wine.

Handling mussels is not difficult, but there are two very important rules to follow. All the uncooked mussels, rinsed under very cold water, but open should be thrown away. Afterwards, all the cooked, but closed mussels should be discarded too.  And, of course reversing the two rules could have serious consequences…

I always try to buy the mussels which, in majority, ale closed (this means they are stored at low temperature). Then either I bring them home very quickly and put them in the fridge, or I transport them in a thermal bag. Just a couple of minutes before being cooked the mussels should be rinsed in very cold water, all the seaweed removed (but most mussels are sold already cleaned). At this point the open ones should be discarded.

My recipe comes from the very classical French cookery book “Petit Larousse  de la cuisine“.

Preparation: 10 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4):

3-4 litres mussels

1 big onion (or a second shallot)

1 shallot (or a second, smaller onion)

1 bunch chopped parsley

30 g butter

2-3 dl white dry wine

1 branch thyme (or 1 tablespoon thyme leaves)

1/2 bay leaf (or 1 small bay leaf)

salt, pepper

Chop the oignon and the shallot.

Rinse and clean the mussels in very cold water. Remove the open ones.

Melt the butter in a big, shallow pan or in a wok. Add the onion and the shallot and fry them 1 or two minutes.

Add the mussels and all the remaining ingredients. Cook over a very high heat, stirring and shaking the pan several times. After around 6 minutes, when all or practically all the mussels are open. Put them aside, remove the bay leaf and the thyme branch (unless you used only thyme leaves) and serve them in big bowls. Pour the cooking liquid over the mussels, dividing it equally among the bowls.

Serve them alone or with chips.