Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato can be found all over Portugal and is undoubtedly one of the best clam dishes we enjoyed while we were in Lisbon. Named after the 19th-century Lisbon poet Bulhão Pato, a well-known gourmand, he's now much more famous for his clam recipes than for his poetry. Whereas the Portuguese would typically use local little neck clams from their waters for this dish, I used B.C. savoury clams, also called varnish clams, which I discovered at Diana's Seafood in Toronto. Originally from Japan, these attractive savoury clams have a shiny brown shell, pale purple interior, with a sweet earthy flavour, and exceptionally tender texture. Sweeter than manila clams, which could also be used for this dish, Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato makes a light and delicious starter, but be sure to serve it with lots of fresh bread to soak up all of the fragrant broth — delicioso!
Ameijoas à Bulhão Pato
2 lb live clams (I used BC savoury clams)
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
2 tbsp white wine
1 lemon, sliced
1 tbsp salt
Let the clams rest in salted water for 2 hours or so to release any sand inside.
In a large pot, heat the olive oil and sliced garlic over high heat, and while stirring constantly, cook for one minute. Add the clams, wine and 3/4 cup of the cilantro, then cover, shaking the pan occasionally, until all of the clams have opened. To serve, pour the clams and sauce onto a high rimmed serving platter and drizzle with lemon juice and the remaining cilantro for garnish. Enjoy with sliced baguette to mop up all the juice.