Celebrity chef and television show host Adam Richman is dropping into the TODAY kitchen to share a few of his favorite summery seafood recipes and share his expert tips on how to properly clean and prep clams for cooking. He shows us how to make grilled clams, bloody mary gazpacho with shrimp and baked clams with breadcrumb stuffing.
1. Live clams will be responsive! If they're open when you get them home, just knock them lightly on the counter, or, like my dad did, give them a solid tap with the back of a wooden spoon. A live clam will close when tapped. A dead one will not. All clams must close if you are planning to eat them!
2. Flush out all the grit and sand in the clams prior to eating. Mollusks are basically filters, so encourage them to push out the icky stuff inside using the following method: Soak clams in a container filled with cool water for 20-30 minutes. You can also add salt or even cornmeal to the water. There's no need to add a lot of either ingredient, just 1/4 cup of each or just 1/3 cup salt in about 3 quarts of water.
3. If you are going to throw the clams on the grill, you don't necessarily have to do this next step, as most stuff on the outside will burn off, but, using a stiff brush (like one you might use for potatoes), give the outside of the shell a scrub to get any excess seaweed, barnacles, etc.
Big, abundant Italian dinners were a major part of my youth. I was not really a seafood guy back then, but these wonderful, flavorful, stuffing-like morsels were my first and favorite gateway into seafood and still evoke a sense of nostalgia eating them today. Instead of the traditional Italian breadcrumbs, I like to use potato rolls or Hawaiian bread because they have a sweetness that echoes the clams themselves.
One of the best things about learning to cook from my family was the fact that none of our recipes were conventional. My dad loved to grill in our backyard, but instead of just burgers and hot dogs, we would often get gourmet Italian sausages from the local salumeria and all kinds of wonderful clams from the boats in Brooklyn. It was amazing to see these foods that I had just seen coming off of boats thrown on the grill, able to be consumed just moments later. Just the slightest addition of lemon or cocktail sauce made this one of the most cherished tastes of my youth. And please try your best not to spill the wonderful brine!
I have always appreciated the refreshing nature of cold gazpacho — and the novel notion that a soup could serve as a refreshment — and with a splash of vodka stirred in, it evokes the bite of a classic bloody mary. The warm shrimp add texture, and I love the cold-hot combo.
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