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Miso Sake Clams

Leeks, about 2 cups chopped (can also substitute 1/2 cup chopped green onions)
2 dozen clams
About 15 stalks of asparagus (optional, can do without)
1 shallot
A couple tablespoons of olive oil
About ¼-½ cup of sake
About 1/4 cup of water
1 tablespoon of butter
1½ tablespoons of miso paste (red or white)
Juice from half a lime or lemon (if using asparagus)
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
½ teaspoon of black pepper

Trim off base of asparagus and wash. Soak and then rub clams clean. Set aside.

To prepare miso: in a small bowl, mash miso paste (using back of spoon) with a little water until it is the consistency gravy. Set aside.

Cut leeks into slivers. Dice a large shallot and clove of garlic. Sauté leeks, shallot and garlic with olive oil and butter. Keep partially covered. Once leeks soften, add miso, saké and water, soy sauce and pepper and cover. When liquid begins to simmer, add asparagus and clams and lemon juice. Cook covered until clams open up and then remove from burner.

Immediately remove pan from burner when clams open up to avoid over cooking. Serve with rice or over noodles.

Spaghetti with Clams

1 pound dried spaghetti
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
5 to 7 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 dozen clams
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, zested, for garnish

In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Add pasta, stirring constantly in the beginning to prevent it from sticking together. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. When almost smoking, add shallots and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the clams and wine. Cover and simmer for 6 to 10 minutes or until most clams have opened.

Add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Whisk in butter to thicken sauce slightly.

Drain pasta in a colander. Do not rinse pasta with water – this will remove the pasta’s natural starches. Place pasta into the clam saute pan and mix thoroughly. Check seasoning.

Pour pasta into large serving bowl. Zest lemon over the dish, being carefull not to zest the white part of the lemon, which is bitter. Garnish with remaining parsley. Serve immediately.

Anna’s favorite basic: clams steamed with white wine, garlic and chile flakes

2 dozen clams in the shell
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon of chile flakes
2 chopped bulbs of garlic
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Add olive oil to a deep saute pan and turn heat to medium high. Once hot, add chile flakes, saute for 2 minutes. Add cleaned clams, wine and garlic, cover and turn heat down to medium. Let cook for 7-10 minutes, until most all of the clams are open. If most are still closed, continue cooking until most open.

Sprinkle with parsley, serve clams in bowls with white wine broth and crusty bread on the side. You can also add to a bowl of pasta instead for pasta con vongole.

Pared-Down Paella with Peas, Clams, and Chorizo

Adapted from Mark Bittman
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces Spanish chorizo or other smoked sausage, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup long-grain brown rice
Salt and black pepper
1 ripe tomato, chopped (can use whole canned tomato)
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 dozen clams, well scrubbed
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Lemon wedges

Put the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot, add the chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns translucent, 3 to 5 minutes more.

Stir in the rice, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the rice is glossy and completely coated with oil, just a minute or 2. Add the tomato and 2 cups water. Stir, adjust the heat so that the liquid boils steadily but not violently, and cover.

Cook for 30 minutes before checking for doneness; add a little water if the rice is dry but not yet tender. Cover and cook until the rice is just done and the liquid is absorbed, another 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the peas and the clams, replace the lid, and continue cooking until the clams are open, 6 to 10 minutes (if most of them still aren’t opened after this time, cook longer). If you want a crunchy crust of toasted rice to form at the bottom of the pan (soccarat), uncover the pot and turn the heat up so the rice sizzles. Cook, without stirring, until you can smell the rice toasting (but not burning), then turn off the heat. Remove the clams from the shells and return them to the pot if you like. Taste and adjust the seasoning and toss. Serve, garnished with parsley and lemon wedges.

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