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Spicy Steamed Clams With Tomato And Cilantro

by Sara Tamayo

An important step in cooking with clams comes before the actual food preparation itself begins. Before anything else happens with clams you have to get rid of the grit. Many times the grit is found both on the inside and the outside of the clams, but it has to all be cleaned off in any case.

The easiest way is to soak the clams in salt water. Make the saltwater by mixing a cup of salt into about three quarts of cold water. Then add the clams and soak for at least a couple of hours or even overnight in the refrigerator. After soaking, scrub the clams well before cooking. Remember that these are still alive so handle gently. If any are cracked or broken, discard.

Steaming is one of the easiest ways of cooking clams, as well as the tastiest, perhaps. You can flavor the liquid with herbs, garlic, and shallots, which can then provide a base for soups, or reduce and thicken it to serve as a sauce.

The following recipe is good for four first-course servings of clams:


1 cup Tamayo Chardonnay
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
2 dozen littleneck clams
2 tomatoes
2 green onions
2 tablespoons cilantro
2 tablespoons butter


Mix the wine, garlic, and red pepper together in a six quart pot with a tight-fitting lid.
Bring to a simmer.

Add clams, cover, and allow to simmer 10-15 minutes, until all the clams have opened. Discard any that are not open.

Scoop the clams into a bowl and keep warm.

If the liquid is sandy, pour slowly into another pot, leaving the sand behind. Or you can strain the liquid through a cheesecloth.

Reduce the sauce by boiling for a couple of minutes.

Whisk in 2 tablespoons of cold butter to thicken slightly

Chop two tomatoes, two green onions, the cilantro, and sprinkle over the clams.

Pour the broth over the top of the clams.

Serve this with lots of crusty French bread to soak up the broth. I like pairing this with the Tamayo Chardonnay. The slight fruitiness balances well with the spice of the red pepper.

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