The inspiration for these smoked clams for Pampano’s Sea to Table menu came from the region in Mexico where La Paz is located, Baja California. Their popular regional dishes are not only coastal, but they are super-light and fresh for summer.
The “almejas,” or clams, are traditionally cooked over an open-wood fire; my interpretation was to slow-cook them and smoke them at the same time with hickory wood chips. I finish them with tequila and a touch of mezcal to accent the smoky wood flavor.
- 1 cup hickory chips, soaked in water for 30 minutes
- 40 manila clams
- 3 tablespoons soy oil
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
- 1 shot tequila blanco or mezcal
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup clam juice
- juice of one lime
To smoke the clams (should be done outdoors):
- Add the wet hickory chips to a large pot over medium heat and set a strainer in the middle of the pot.
- Put the clams in the strainer and cover well with a lid. As the smoke starts getting intense, the clams should start slowly cooking.
For the tequila sauce:
- While the clams are cooking, heat the soy oil in a sauté pan over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add the shallots and cook for less than a minute, then add the tomatoes, onions and cilantro.
- Sauté for one minute and add the shot of tequila.
- Add the butter and clam juice. When the butter is melted, finish with the lime juice and salt to taste.
- By then the clams should be ready. Set them in four serving dishes and pour the sauce on top on each one. Serve immediately.