Portuguese-Spiced Clams and Vinho Verde Wines

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Clams swimming in a vibrant red broth bring a perfect balance of tang and heat! This Portuguese Spiced Clams dish is the perfect cold weather meal. You definitely need some rustic bread to swipe that delicious sauce off the bowl and a good Vinho Verde wine for pairing. What I love the most about this dish is that it takes less than 15 minutes to bring it together.

I love any kind of seafood and grew up eating a ton load of it. However, shellfish is something that I tried only after I moved to US. My very first experience was with garlic mussels and while I hesitated a little bit at first, it took just one bite to get me hooked! As much as I enjoy it, I very rarely make it at home. As I was browsing the seafood section yesterday in an Asian store while looking for inspiration, the little clams caught my attention and I went for it.

How to buy and store clams?
Clams are sold and cooked live. They are usually kept in ice or water. Look for the ones with tightly shut shiny shells. If it’s slightly open, tap on the shell and if shuts immediately, it’s still alive.

If you are not cooking the shells right away, put it in the bowl, cover it with a damp kitchen towel and keep it in the refrigerator.

How to clean clams?
Chances are that you will find clean clams, but just in case, place it on a colander and run under cold water. Then, gently scrub the shell to remove any sand or seaweed. If any shell opens, tap it slightly and if it doesn’t close immediately, discard it.

Vinho Verde Wine
With shellfish, I feel the broth is the key to the dish. I decided to go with a simple sauce made with Portuguese spices mainly because I had this gorgeous bottle of Vinho Verde (pronounced veeng-yo vaird) wine for pairing. Vinho Verde is not a grape variety – it is a wine region in the north of Portugal. Their wines are delicious, and very food friendly – there isn’t much that cannot be paired with Vinho Verde! This Portuguese Spiced clam dish is a natural choice to pair with such a versatile wine.

The wine I received is a blend of Alvarinho, Trajadura, and Loureiro grapes, all of which are native to Portugal. The wines from the Vinho Verde region are bright, acidic, and can even be aged. If you’ve got a wine cellar in your basement or even just a growing wine collection, don’t be afraid to add Vinho Verde to your aging shelf. It’s a fine wine – it’ll just get better with age. But in the meantime, it’s the perfect wine to brighten up any fall food pairing.


Portuguese-Spiced Clams and Vinho Verde Wines
 
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
 
Author:
Recipe Type: Main
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1.3 lb clams
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 white onion, finely chopped
  • 1½ cup fish or chicken broth
  • 10 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • finely chopped cilantro leaves
for the sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili flakes
Instructions
  1. For the sauce, add all the ingredients in a jar and whisk it. Keep it aside to be used later.
  2. Place a wide heavy bottom skillet on medium heat and add the butter. Once the butter melts, drop the garlic slices and allow it to sizzle for a few seconds (do not brown it). Drop the chopped onion, stir around and cook for 3 minutes or until it’s softened.
  3. Drop the cherry tomatoes, the sauce and pour the wine. Cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour the chicken stock. If the chicken stock is sodium free, sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt and stir around. Once the stock comes to a boil, check for salt and add any, if needed.
  5. Finally, drop the clean clams, cover the skillet and let it cook for about 3 minutes. Depending on the size of the clams, it may take more or less time for the shells to open up. Switch off the heat, check for any unopened clams and discard those.
  6. Sprinkle fresh cilantro and serve warm with crusty bread.

 



Kankana Saxena

Kankana Saxena shares culinary journey, travel stories and passion for photography in her blog 'Playful Cooking'. Her cooking style is mostly nutritional with little bit of indulgence here and there. She believes in the mantra 'homemade is happiness'! She is a native of India but currently resides in Santa Clara, California with her husband.

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