Manila Clams with Basil + Notes on BUTTER

Didn’t really expect this to turn out as well as it did, seeing as I totally winged it and just threw in stuff from my fridge. But I’m DEFINITELY making this again. Probably one of my most successful creations.

Image

Love these Bunashimeji mushrooms, btw. A bouncier, more complimenting texture to the clams than enoki, which is what I usually keep at home for soups and hot pots. Here’s my Japanese mushroom pictionary reference source: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2340.html

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lb live manila clams
  • 1 tbs peanut oil/cooking oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • handful of small basil leaves
  • 1 batch Bunashimeji mushrooms (see pic)
  • 1 spoonful of white Shiro Miso
  • ~1/4 cup soy sauce (add to taste)
  • 1 -2 tbs Mirin
  • 1/4 cup Moscato or other sweet white wine (or regular white wine + 1 tsp sugar)
  • 1 tbs good, unsalted butter
  • red chili pepper flakes, for color mostly…little sliced chili peppers will do, too

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Prepare clams: Scrub the suckers clean. Then submerge clams in a deep bowl with salt water. (Like..ocean-water-salty. Makes sense, no?) Add a few ice cubes to keep it cold. Do this well in advance, at least a few hours before cooking. Drain and rinse clean. This gives the clams time to spit out sand and crud.
  2. In a medium sized saute pan (with a lid), heat a bit of oil over medium high until shimmery and hot. Saute garlic until just fragrant (careful not to burn), then add soy sauce and mushrooms. Stir fry 1-2 min to soften.
  3. Stir in miso until dissolved. Add mirin and white wine (if you’re using a regular, non sweet white wine, dissolve in a tsp of sugar). Bring to a boil.
  4. Add clams and cover immediately. In about 3 min, clams should slowly start to open up. Wait for it. Some are slower than others to respond (like humans). Uncover and add basil and butter. Stir until butter melts into the sauce. Remove and plate. Toss out unopened clams (they were dead before they hit the pan. No good.) Sprinkle on red pepper flakes and serve.

NOTES ON BUTTER:

  1. Adding butter at the end instead of sauteing with it in the beginning lets the flavor of butter stand out more. It’s also used to thicken the final sauce. Something I read somewhere. So don’t waste good butter on early steps of a recipe. And DON’T buy cheap butter you don’t mind wasting.
  2. When in doubt, get unsalted. You can use it for cooking aND baking.
  3. Don’t bake with salted butter. It messes up the ingredients ratio.
  4. Learn to make Ghee. THIS you can saute with. In fact, use it instead of oil from here on out. It doesn’t burn. It doesn’t smoke. It doesn’t spoil. And it tastes like HEAVEN.
  5. Kerrygold Pure Irish Butter is rich and creamy. Kind of cheesy. Which can be good or bad, depending on your preference. Smells divine. Good for finishing sauces.
  6. For batch baking, or making ghee in large quantities (which is the ONLY way to make ghee), Land O Lakes is surprisingly amazing. Very rich butter flavor, doesn’t taste like artificial popcorn flavoring like other cheaper brands, and it has this awesome FLAVOR protecting wrapper.

Oh, and I’ve taken to keeping a 4 pack of Sutter Home Moscato in my fridge at all times. Use what you need and drink the rest. Perfect one time servings for those that don’t drink enough to buy a whole bottle for one recipe.

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One Comment to “Manila Clams with Basil + Notes on BUTTER”

  1. I miss you. Someday, I’m just gonna show up at your house and force you to be my roommate again. You cook, I’ll bake. Deal? Deal.

    Also, I do the same thing with Sutter Home mini bottles… although the cabernet I bought to saute mushrooms with isn’t quite as good as the stuff I used to cook with at my parent’s house.

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