Smoked clams in a can? They’re ok, but they got nothin’ on the real thing. These fresh beauties from the sea will bring out your inner pirate and have you swashbuckling your way down to the seashore at every low tide.
We are really fortunate to be able to dig for butter clams here in the northwest, but if you are an east-coaster you would probably want to use quahogs. This method would work equally well with clams from the store for you land-lubbers.
First you want to clean your clams (clams from the store are probably already cleaned). Soak them in some salt water from the briny deep for about 2 hours. Add little corn meal if you’ve got it to help them flush out the sandy bits. Drain, rinse, and discard any that are gaping open, those suckers are dead.
Next, you want to put them in a big pot. Don’t add any water, they have plenty inside. Steam them for about 10-15 minutes, until they open up. let them cool enough to handle, then you want to remove them from their shells.
We brine up the ones that are about bite size and intact. If they are huge or falling apart, we chop them up and can them for clam chowder. We also strain the juice (clam nectar) and use that in chowder and in canning the chopped clams.
Now, the brine is what makes the smoked clams spectacular. Here’s the recipe:
- 1/2 c Kosher Salt
- 1 1/2 c Brown Sugar
- 1/2 c Soy Sauce
- 1 Tb Minced Garlic
- 1 Tb Black Pepper
- 2 tsp Tabasco or other hot sauce
- 1 gallon of water
Mix all of these ingredients together and put the clams in to soak. Brine them in the fridge for 4-6 hours.
Now you are ready to smoke those clams! Take them out of the brine and lay them out on your smoker trays. Load up your smoker, but don’t turn it on yet. You want them to dry out a bit and form a “pellicle”. That’s a dry layer on the outside of any meat you are going to smoke. Let them hang out for a half an hour or so, then stoke that smoker up with wood of your choice, and smoke them for about two hours.
When they are all done, take them out and toss them with enough olive oil to coat. Start drooling.
If we are fortunate enough to have a bounty, we will vacuum pack them and put them in the freezer, but usually they will be all eaten up that day. Enjoy!
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