Monday, April 20, 2009

Clams with sherry and white beans

Clams with White Beans

The longest-lived animal ever discovered is a clam that lived on the seabed in the frigid waters off Iceland's north coast. It managed to clock up 405 years - a seriously long time in icy waters, till a research team from Bangor University came along looking for clams and dragged it to the surface.

"Its death is an unfortunate aspect of this work, but we hope to derive lots of information from it," said Al Wanamaker, a postdoctoral scientist on the university's Arctica team. "For our work it's a bonus, but it wasn't good for this particular animal." The joys of academic understatement.

We supped on decidedly younger clams on Saturday night. I have eaten them occasionally but never cooked them till recently when I tried a stirfry with mussels and thai basil and sort of swamped the delicacy of the flavour without creating a great dinner. Undeterred I bought some more on Saturday to make a Casa Moro dish with the softness of new season garlic and some pale cream sherry to bring out their sweetness. What a treat they turned out to be.

Clams with sherry and white beans

750g small clams
4 tbspns olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or 5 or 6 new season cloves
150 ml manzanilla sherry or white wine
2 tbspns flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
200g cooked drained white beans that you like
30 threads saffron, infused in 3 tbspns boiling water
Lots of fresh ground black pepper

Wash the clams under cold running water, discarding any that are broken or open. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. When hot add the garlic and fry for a couple of seconds tillit just begins to colour. Add the sherry or wine and simmer till it is reduced by two thirds. Add the clams, half the parsley, the beans and the saffron water and mix thoroughly. Cover and simmer for 3 minutes until the clams are fully opened.

Taste for seasoning, add lashings of black pepper and the remaining parsley and serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil acros the top and a chunk of crusty bread at the side.

Have to say the saffron I used was fairly old and dusty and probably didn't bring much to the dish - could be time to splash out on a few new threads. This would also be good with some chunks of pancetta and perhaps some smoked paprika.

All in all a great Saturday night special.


Angie said...

However did they know how old it was?

bron said...

They count the rings inside the shell apparently, like aging trees or glaciers I guess. Thinking they must be tiny...