Clams in Corn & Coconut Broth with Tomatoes

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Eat More Clams.

Salmon, tuna and shrimp are the three most consumed seafood products in the US. 

Contrary to what Red Lobster wants you to believe, there is no such thing as “endless shrimp” or endless anything for that matter. Everything on this earth and in the sea is finite, and humans are doing a good job of fishing and eating our favorite things to near extinction. (see wild Atlantic salmon and the 1992 collapse of the Newfoundland Grand Banks cod fishery).

Dare to be different and cook clams for dinner tonight. 

Clams get a big thumbs up from Seafood Watch, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s program to educate consumers on how to choose seafood that’s fished or farmed in ways that support a healthy ocean. They’re plentiful, and harvesting methods have minimal environmental impact. 

This recipe employs corn and tomatoes, which are bountiful right now, but will be gone too soon (cue the sobbing).  The sweet corn, rich coconut milk and briny clam flavors meld together during cooking, resulting in a luscious broth punctuated by burst cherry tomatoes and a fistful of herbs. The addition of fresh corn after cooking provides a fresh, satisfying crunch.

What’s that you say? You’ve never cooked clams before? Fear not, friend.  I was once a bi-valve beginner myself and I will impart some of my wisdom upon you.  

  • Contrary to what you may think, clams are relatively inexpensive compared to other seafood. Look for small clams about 1½ inches in diameter (aka littlenecks) for dishes like this one. The largest and chewiest ones are reserved for clam strips and chopped into chowders. 
  • Clams should be whole, free of cracks or chunks missing from the shell, and they should have a fresh, briny scent. Trust your senses here; if something smells overly fishy don’t buy or use it. 
  • If you’re not going to cook your clams immediately, store them in a bowl in your fridge with a damp towel on top for a day or two (but no longer). Remember, until you cook them, these are live animals, so don’t suffocate them by storing them in a plastic bag. 
  • Before cooking, scrub your clams with a soft brush to remove mud or other gunk. 
  • Clams of any size can become chewy if overcooked, so rescue clams from the pot as soon as they open.
  • Family and friends will be so impressed with your clam-making skills that they will frequently demand them. This is a good thing.

For more on mollusks, check out this comprehensive guide from Serious Eats.

Prevent a wave of mutilation: eat clams and save a salmon (or tuna or shrimp) today!

Clams in Corn & Coconut Broth with Tomatoes

Servings: 4 people
Author: The Irrational Parsnip

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger use a microplane
  • 2-4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts separated from the dark green  You should end up with about 1/2 cup of the white/light green parts of the scallion. Reserve green tops for garnish.
  • 1 large garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 4 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh corn, from about 2-3 cobs see note below on how to remove corn from cobs
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup coconut milk use full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh soft herbs, such as basil, cilantro, mint or dill.
  • 1 small Thai chili pepper, chopped (optional) For less heat, use a serrano or jalapeno pepper instead.

Instructions

  • Heat a large pot over medium high and add oil. When oil shimmers, add white and light green scallion parts to pot and sautee until soft, about a minute.
  • Add garlic and ginger to pot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add clams, tomatoes, coconut milk and half of the corn to the pot and cover.
  • Clams should begin to open after about five minutes. As clams open, use tongs to pluck them from the pot and place into a large bowl. The timing often varies, but all the clams should be open after about 15 minutes of cooking.
  • Once all clams are cooked, add the remaining corn to the pot and cook for a minute. Remove from heat and stir in the lime juice.
  • Taste broth and add salt or additional lime juice if necessary.
  • To serve, ladle broth into individual bowls and add clams. Scatter herbs, scallion greens and chillis on top, if using.

Notes

There are many ways to cut fresh corn from the cob. My preferred method:
Place the cob into a large bowl, with the thinner end sticking out.
Grasp the tip of the cob and using a sharp knife, slice down the cob from top to bottom. You’re basically shaving the kernels off.  Rotate the cob and repeat until all kernels are removed.
Fun fact: You can save the denuded cobs to make a corn stock! Just simmer in water for 45 minutes to an hour along with a yellow onion cut in half. Use in place of regular stock or as a base for chowders. Freezes well too!

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