My eight year old Gianna had a diorama due for her school project, and she chose to recreate the scene in Surprise Island (of the Box Car Children series) where they went digging for clams. So I told her that I would get some clam shells for her.
I found some all natural, fresh, live Middle Neck Clams from Chesapeake Bay. Prior to preparing the clams, soak them in a bowl of water with a little kosher salt. You may hear some interesting sounds. Since they're live, if you see any open shells, tap on them. It's pretty cool to see them close up. You see bubbles. Some people say to leave the shells soaking up to overnight, and some say just a couple of hours. I soaked mine overnight.
Next, pull the shells out of the water. Don't dump them into a collander because all the grit that has been released is in the bottom of the bowl, where you want it to stay - not on top of your clams in the collander. Heat a teaspoon of butter in a medium dutch oven.
- 1 half onion, diced
- 24 clams
- 1 cup of sherry cooking wine
- finely chopped cilantro
- 1 half lemon
- Heat the onion in the butter over medium high heat until soft.
- Add the sherry and bring up to a boil.
- After about 5 minutes, add the clams.
- Cover with the lid and let steam over medium high heat for 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid, checking for any clams that did not open. Remove the opened clam shells, and let the unopened shells simmer a little longer with the lid on. Discard any that do not open. I only had 2 that needed to be tossed.
- Top with the cilantro and the juice of the lemon.