Hardshell clams with garlic are a simple and delicious way to prepare these bivalves. The dish is popular in the Mediterranean region and has found its way into American cuisine as well.

The best clams for steaming are hardshell clams, which have a harder shell than soft-shell clams. Hardshell clams can be cooked in a variety of ways, including boiling, frying, and baking.

This is a traditional recipe for steaming clams that also works well as a spaghetti garnish. In Italy, the tiniest clams are utilized, with shells that are sometimes little larger than your thumbnail, and the best to use for this purpose are tiny littleneck clams, mahogany clams, or cockles. When purchasing hardshell clams, ensure that the shells are intact and firmly closed; this indicates that the clams are alive. The only thing left to do is make sure the clamshells are completely clear of sand (the benefit of these clams over steamers is that you don’t have to worry about the inside). Clean the shells well, even scrubbing them if required. If any clams remain unopened after cooking, use a knife or your fingers to pry them open.

  • a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 pound cockles or small hardshell clams
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon spicy red pepper flakes, or to taste
  • Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Garnish with chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Serve with lemon wedges.

Instructions:

  • In a big, deep pan, heat half of the olive oil over high heat. Cook, shaking the pan or tossing the clams periodically, for approximately 5 minutes, or until the first few of them open.
  • Cover for a minute after adding the garlic and, if used, the hot pepper flakes. Uncover and simmer, stirring periodically, for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until nearly all of the clams have opened. (Any that aren’t open yet may be opened with a regular butter knife or your fingers at the table.) Serve with the lemon wedges and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

 

The dipping sauce for steamed clams is a type of dipping sauce that can be used with hardshell clams. It’s made by combining olive oil, garlic, parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

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