A good clam is hard to beat. And as in all things seafoody, there are many different types to choose from. And many different prices to pay. In the market you can pay up to 20€ a kilo for the same clams that sell in the next door stall for 12€, which in turn are sold in the super(?)market for 9€.
These are common or garden ‘Almejas Japonicas’, mass-produced mainly off Italy or France. They have beautiful shells and are delicious but have nothing on the undisputed king of clams – ‘Almejas de Carril‘. These mothers are monsters of delight. But they also have a voracious appetite for the contents of your wallet.
Of course exaggeratedly, but also tellingly, they sell for €25 for just eight clams in some of the island’s seafood restaurants. They are however always expensive wherever you go (with the exception of Carril, I am told, where they sell year round for 10-12 a kilo) and rightly so. Wild seafood of this quality should be expensive, it should be a treat. And as with so many things of this quality it should not be messed around with. Let the clam do the talking. A very simple and completely excellent recipe follows below.
But before that, another thing about clams – they are so sexy. So sexual. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t want to do it to a clam, but I can’t help thinking about doing it when I am… savouring? sucking? a clam. Next time you eat one, a big one mind, a big, phat, juicy one, you have a good look at it sitting there in its pearly palace; plump, inviting, oceanic and then tell me your thoughts don’t veer off.
To go back to the many different types of clams – you can go from tiny ones (chirlas) to those gigantic ones Tarzan had to keep rescuing Jane from in the Johnny Weissmuller black and whites. There is also the Venus clam. Venus meaning ‘love’ and ‘sexual desire’ in Latin. Botticelli chose to put his Venus in a giant clam shell so I think it is pretty clear what was on his mind when he chose that for a platform for the Goddess of Love.
Almejas de Carril with fino
- Olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic – sliced and peeled goodfellas thin
- ½ a dried guindilla
- 200g approx Almejas de Carril – they should be without grit but soak them in very cold water for an hour beforehand just in case
- A chupito of fino
- A grind of black pepper
- Maybe some salt
- A warm plate
Gently saute the chilli and garlic in the oil in a pan big enough to hold all the clams. When the garlic is soft turn up the heat and add the clams and the fino.
After a minute or two the clams will begin to spring open one by one. This wont take long so be on hand to remove them to the warm plate as they open. When they have all opened there will be a whole load more licor in the pan. Turn the heat right up and shake the pan continually until you have reduced it to a lovely, viscous sauce. Try it for salt and then pour over the clams.
If you can only get standard clams the below video is a good thing to try: