The term ‘clam’ includes a wide range of shellfish and it’s not always clear which type is being referred to. The confusion is understandable as ‘clam’ encompasses all kinds of bivalve molluscs. Strictly speaking, it should be used only for those that close completely, hence the phrase ‘to clam up’. But it’s not quite so simple as that as some clams, such as the razor clam and soft clam, don’t shut. The latter is also known as a ‘gaper’, precisely because it never closes up completely. By contrast, mussels and oysters are bivalve molluscs that close hermetically, but they are never termed clams. Clams are most commonly found in American recipes and, typically, these are venus clams, such as the striped venus. However, for recipes like this, vongole veraci also work perfectly well.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- Total Time: 15 Minutes
- 800 g/1 lb 12 oz clams
- 2 tbsp white wine
- 4 tbsp fish stock (see here)
- handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- ½ red chilli (chile), deseeded and finely chopped
- 8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
- 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 25 g/1 oz/2 tbsp butter, diced
- olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
- Line four soup plates or bowls with sheets of foil and cover each with a sheet of baking parchment (baking paper). Divide the clams, white wine, fish stock, chopped parsley (reserving some for garnish), red chilli (chile), tomatoes and garlic between the parchment sheets. Drizzle over a few drops of olive oil, dot with the diced butter and season lightly with pepper. Arrange the clams on the parchment sheets in a single layer so they are not too tightly packed and their shells have enough room to open as they steam.
- Carefully fold the parchment and foil around the clams, sealing the parcels tightly but leaving a space for steam to escape. Place the parcels on a baking sheet and cook in the oven for 10–12 minutes.
- Take the parcels out of the oven, open them carefully and check that all the shells have opened. If any haven’t, fold the parchment and foil back around the clams and return the parcels briefly to the oven.
- To serve, open the parcels and sprinkle the clams with the reserved chopped parsley.