Mussels, clams & chorizo

Here’s a recipe from one of two January posts for Borough Market on the subject of ingredients from the sea. I heartily recommend giving it a go: it’s super easy and quick (bar some fairly hands-off preparation); the mix of sweet, fat mussels and salty palourde clams is a delight; and the chorizo gives meaty depth and paprika highs to the broth. Have a read of the Borough post here. There’s another one (on Teochew sea bass) coming soon.

If you try making the dish, I suggest you use a good quality, mild and sweet cooking chorizo – this one from Brindisa definitely complements rather than overwhelms the molluscs. Super, super tasty. Recipe below the picture.

In the meantime, a few notes on preparing clams and mussels:

  • Keep the mussels and clams separate as the mussels take a bit more work.
  • If a clam or mussel is open before you cook it, discard it. Before you do that, though, tap open shells against a hard surface before discarding them as they may close up.
  • Ensure you soak the clams and mussels in the sink or a full bowl of water for 20-30 minutes before you cook with them. Gritty molluscs are not so nice.
  • Refresh the water 2-3 times over that period. Remove the molluscs from the dirty water with a slotted spoon, throw away the gritty water, refill. The final soak should leave pretty much clear water – if not, try one more soak.
  • Pull the ‘beard’ from the mussels when they’re under the water and give them another rub to ensure all the grit has gone.

mussels, clams, chorizo plated

Steamed mussels and palourde clams in a chorizo broth

Serves 4 as a lunch or starter

  • 1kg mussels
  • 600g palourde clams
  • 2 mild, sweet cooking chorizo sausages (from Brindisa)
  • 1 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 350g white wine
  • Good handful flat leaf parsley, chop the stems finely, the leaves roughly
  • ¼ lemon

Prepare the clams and mussels as described above. Keep them separate as you do this.

Score down the skin of chorizo with a sharp knife and remove the sausage meat, pinching it into clumps about 2cm big. You don’t need to be neat. In fact, rough is better.

Put the chorizo in a saucepan that will fit all of your ingredients. Place the saucepan on a medium flame. The chorizo will start to leak its delicious oils after a minute or so. Add the onion and finely chopped parsley stalks. Sweat this slowly for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and turn the heat up.

After 20 seconds, pour in the wine and cook this hard for 90 seconds to burn the alcohol off.

Throw the mussels and clams into the boiling wine stock (the clams are much smaller than the mussels, but will actually take about the same time to pop open). Put the lid on, give the pan a shake a good shake and stand back for 3-4 minutes. Your feast is ready when all the shells are open.

To finish, drop in the parsley, squeeze the lemon into the pan and give everything one more confident toss.

Serve in bowls with fresh bread. Have a bowl on the table for discarded shells.