Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Baked Razor Clams with Sautéed Bread Crumbs

Named for its sharp shell and resemblance to an old-fashioned straight-edge razor, Razor Clams are hands-down one of the most unusual looking shellfish with their suggestive knobby white protuberances that retract when touched, but are also among the world's sweetest, delicate and most flavourful seafood treats imaginable. With a shell much more slender and fragile than its cousin the clam, and a texture similar to squid with the subtle sweetness of scallops, these bivalves are delicious either steamed, sautéed, grilled, fried or broiled, but can become tough and chewy if overcooked. My favourite recipe is a combination of methods where the razor clams are first steamed in olive oil and white wine, then cleaned, chopped into a coarse dice and finally crowned with a savoury topping of sautéed garlic, scallions, red pepper, fresh tarragon and dried bread crumbs, and broiled under high heat for just a few minutes until they become crisp and golden. Served hot from the oven and garnished with some fresh parsley and sliced lemon, they're a sexy little appetizer with lots of panache.

1-pound of fresh razor clams

The clams are soaked in salted water to help them emit the sand

The razor clams braising in olive oil and white wine

A whole cooked razor clam: the foot on the left should be cut off along with the guts

Cleaned and gutted, the razor clams are chopped into a fine dice

Minced garlic, scallions and red pepper are sautéed in olive until soft, about 3 minutes

Bread crumbs and minced tarragon are added to the soffrito and toasted until crisp

The empty shells are laid out on a foil lined baking sheet

Cleaned and chopped, the razor clams are nestled in the most attractive of the shell halves

Topped with the savoury bread crumb mixture, the razor clams are broiled at 425°F for 5-10 minutes until cooked though and golden brown

Aromatic and toasted, the razor clams are ready to be plated

Garnished with fresh slices of lemon and sprigs of parsley, the razor clams are plated for presentation 

Steamed and Baked Stuffed Razor Clams
Serves 4 as appetizer

1 lb fresh live razor clams
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup diced red pepper
2-3 tbsp dry white wine
2 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 cup breadcrumbs
zest of 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper to taste

chopped fresh parsley & lemon wedges

Quickly rinse the razor clams under cold running water to remove any sand and strain. Place a frying pan on the stovetop over high heat with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and when hot, add the razor clams and a splash of wine and cover. Steam until all the shells open. Drain in a sieve, reserving the cooking liquor, and leave to cool.

Place the frying pan back on the stovetop over medium heat and add the remaining olive oil, scallions, garlic and red peppers and simmer for 2-3 minutes or until just softened. Add the reserved liquid and breadcrumbs, and stir until toasted and most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped tarragon and lemon zest and allow to cool.

In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to the broiler setting with the rack placed in the highest position. The razor clams should now be cool enough to handle, so carefully remove the clams from the shells, keeping the shell intact. Wash the shells under cold running water, dry and set aside. Cut off the gnarly dark foot at one end and discard the dark digestive sac in the middle. Rinse under cold water then chop the meat into a 1/4-inch dice, and set aside. Repeat until each of the clams are cleaned, rinsed and diced. 

Place the shells on a foil lined baking tray and spoon the chopped clams into each of the shells and top with the breadcrumb mixture and broil until they're crisp and golden, about 6-8 minutes. Carefully remove the shells from the oven and transfer to a serving plate with a garnish of chopped fresh parsley and wedges of lemon.