Clams are part of one of my all-time favourite dishes: spaghetti alle vongole. However, with so many places adding tomato to this simple dish, I often avoid it. If I had my way, I’d take those cooks out the back and give them a stern talking to.
Yet here I am, slathering the things in spices and broth. The original plan was to serve them with yam fries, thereby inventing the dish ‘clams with yams’, but the fries were so bitter and unpleasant that this is now called ‘clams with no yams’. Something for another day, perhaps.
The jerk seasoning and broth, delicately fiery with a hint of fruitiness from the allspice and cloves works so well with the mineral sweetness of the clams. It’s up to you how hot you want to go, I like mine pretty poky, but not at the expense of flavour and edibility, so adjust as you see fit. As with all bivalves, they need a good soak in fresh water for a while and make sure you throw away any that don’t close when tapped. That goes for ones that don’t open when cooked as well.
We ate these with a big bowl of buttermilk fried spicy chicken, sweet potato fries and salad in front of the England v. Russia game. Hardly relevant cuisine, but delicious and perfect football food nonetheless.
1 bag of super fresh clams
1-2 scotch bonnet chillies
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 a small red onion
1tbsp palm sugar
A thumb sized piece of ginger
1tbsp dried thyme leaves
1tbsp ground allspice
2tsp Himalayan salt (or flaky sea salt such as Maldon if you don’t have any)
Spring onions to serve
Rinse the clams in running cold water for about 5 minutes and leave to sit while you prepare the spice mix.
Blitz everything else in a spice grinder or processor until you have a paste. Add a little oil to loosen it.
Heat a deep, lidded sauté pan and fry the jerk seasoning for a minute or two until you start to cough and your family complain.
Open the windows and add a large splash or two of water to the pan.
Add the clams and put the lid tightly on.
Cook for about four or five minutes, shaking the pan every now and then.
Check they’ve all opened and throw away any that haven’t.
Pour into a serving dish, sprinkle over some chopped spring onions and tuck in.