Speaking of abundant seafood: A cache of steamer clams narrowly missed their date with my stockpot after a recent weekend at the coast.
Seeing those sturdy shells never fails to remind me of my childhood dining at the now-defunct Moe’s restaurant in Coos Bay, where plastic sand pails of steamers were a staple.
I still adore littleneck clams and mussels, simmered in broth and wine and plucked straight from their shells. Bivalves and other mollusks always seem a bit road-weary in Rogue Valley fish cases, and most in freezer sections are farmed in Asia.
The ones at Chuck’s Seafood in Charleston were particularly fine specimens, harvested in chilly Washington waters, the fishmonger confirmed. Clams will keep, still live, on ice for several days. But I didn’t want to chance purchasing them too far in advance then subjecting them to the road trip home. So I vowed we wouldn’t miss out next time.
Recipes abound for steamed clams, but this one with kimchi recently caught my eye. The addition of sausage would please my husband, a fellow lover of big bowls of mussels and their ilk.
Garlic sausage, listed in the ingredients, may be almost as elusive here as truly fresh seafood. Recipe testers for The Washington Post found it at Whole Foods Markets.
I would choose any good-quality, fresh sausage. Fennel-flavored goes well with the traditional flavor profiles for clams and mussels. The garlic component would be even better achieved with slices of garden- or farmers market-fresh allium.
The Post adapted this recipe from one by Lee Gregory of the Roosevelt, in Richmond, Va., included in “80 Forks: A Cookbook Featuring Richmond’s Most Admired Chefs, Restaurants and Cuisine” (Blunt Objects, 2014).
Clams With Sausage and Kimchi
30 to 40 littleneck clams
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces to 1 pound fresh garlic sausage
8 ounces kimchi
4 ounces white wine, pale ale, no-salt-added chicken broth or water
Toasted bread, for serving
Place the clams in a bowl of clean, cool water; swish them about for a minute or two, then rinse clams and scrub them with a stiff brush under running water. Discard any that remain open when tapped with a finger.
Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saute pan or wok over medium heat.
Remove and discard the sausage casings. Pinch off pieces of sausage into butter. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring to break up sausage, until it loses its raw look.
Meanwhile, puree half of the kimchi in a food processor until the chunks disappear. Coarsely chop remaining.
Add clams to pan or wok, stirring to incorporate, then add the liquid of your choice (wine, beer, broth or water). Cook, uncovered, for 2 minutes, then stir in pureed kimchi and chopped kimchi. Increase heat to high; cover and cook/steam for about 6 minutes or until clams open.
Divide mixture among wide, shallow bowls, discarding any clams that failed to open. Serve hot, with toasted bread. Makes 3 or 4 servings.