garlic wine and butter steamed clams

One of my favorite things — although, honestly, it’s not easy to choose — we ate in Portugal was small clams cooked in a garlic wine sauce, usually with cilantro and always only eaten with bread, which I learned when we went to one of those* restaurants on the beach one night where you pick your dinner from what’s been caught that day and everyone is a little vague about preparations because they assume you already know. “How are the clams prepared?” “What do you mean? Steamed!” “And they’re served with…?” “Well, in Portugal, we eat clams with bread, only bread. Would you like something else?” And so it was.

what you'll need

The dish, called Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato, is named after the 19th century Lisbon poet Bulhão Pato, who was known to be a gourmand. It’s usually a first course. And, no, this isn’t officially it — unable to follow the simplest directions, I replaced the olive oil with butter, threw in some shallots, used parsley instead of cilantro because I killed my cilantro already and added red pepper flakes. But we did eat it with bread. And more of the wine (I mean, the bottle was now open so we were basically obligated) and intentionally or not, managed to unlock my new favorite date night dinner, even if you are sharing your table with little people disinterested in wine-steamed clams.

soaking the clams
butter and shallots and garlic and so much yes
into the pan
opening (not ready yet)

Wait, hear me out. Once your clams are clean, this is a 7-minute meal. You get to eat garlic, wine and butter steamed tiny sweet clams over grilled bread with a fistful of fresh herbs and little tumbler wine on the side and it feels like you should be in a restaurant overlooking a beach sunset somewhere and not your junior four in the East Village with a view of the guy who yells at the trash can all day. I know I claim to be wildly opposed to cooking separate meals for the younger and older components of your family (I am! I am!) but if one was ever to make an exception, to just make them the tortellini or fish sticks or grilled chicken and broccoli they’d rather have anyway, I vote for this, something that feels indulgent and luxurious despite being light and quick. And I vote for you to make these tonight.

ladling the wine/garlic/butter sauce over
steamed clams with wine, garlic and butter

* (because they’re everywhere and this is why Portugal must be heaven)


One year ago: Oat and Wheat Sandwich Bread
Two years ago: Cucumber Lemonade
Three years ago: Fudgy Chocolate Sheet Cake
Four years ago: Homemade Wheat Thins
Five years ago: Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar
Six years ago: Monkey Cake
Seven years ago: Look What We Baked!
Eight years ago: Bread Without A Timetable
Nine years ago: Cream Cheese Noodle Kugel

And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Apricot Hazelnut Brown Butter Hamantaschen
1.5 Years Ago: The Consolation Prize (A Mocktail)
2.5 Years Ago: Sizzling Chicken Fajitas
3.5 Years Ago: Chocolate Hazelnut Macaroon Torte
4.5 Years Ago: Carrot Cake Pancakes

Garlic, Wine and Butter Steamed Clams

  • Servings: For 2
  • Print

  • 1 1/2 pounds small (I used Manila) clams
  • 2 thick slices country or sourdough bread
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to brush bread (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or minced
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, minced or 1/4 cup minced white onion
  • Salt and red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs — parsley, cilantro, chives or a mix
  • 1 lemon, in wedges

If you think your clams may not be clean, wash them first: Fill a large bowl with cool tap water and place the clams in it. Let them soak for 20 minutes during which they’ll expel any sand and grit.

While they’re soaking, grill or broil your bread: Dab both sides lightly with olive oil, if using, and grill or broil until well-toasted on both sides.

Lightly scrub your clams. Discard any with chipped shells.

In a large saute pan with a lid, melt butter and add garlic, shallots, salt and pepper flakes. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes over medium-high. Add wine — and as soon as it simmers, add all the clams and cover with a lid. In three minutes, almost all should be wide open; discard any that do not open. Transfer to a bowl and ladle cooking liquid over. Scatter with herbs and serve with grilled bread and lemon.

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111 comments on garlic wine and butter steamed clams

      1. It started life as a Tex-Mex squash casserole courtesy of Lisa Fain/Homesick Texan, which is delightful and everyone should try it. But then I had sweet potatoes lying about instead, and I de-Tex-Mexed it (for… reasons?) and reduced the dairy somewhat and the cheese sort of magically disappeared. Perfectly edible but in no way exciting.

  1. Oh my goodness, I want to make this immediately! It never occurred to me to make steamed clams in a similar fashion to how I make steamed mussels.

    Where do you recommend shopping for clams (and bivalves in general) in NYC? I live in Astoria but am willing to go all the way to Manhattan.

    1. deb

      I got mine at the Lobster Place in Chelsea Market but I’m sure there’s somewhere closer for you. They do have an nice selection, though. The manilla were one of 4 or 5 even types of clams.

    2. Dee

      Hands down the best place to get super fresh fish and seafood in NYC is bluemoon fish at Union Square farmers market on Wednesday (they are also at GAP in Brooklyn on Saturdays) the lobster place and Citarella are also pretty good.

  2. Deb, as the mother of a 15 month old, i’m struggling with the “make one meal” thing, since my kid won’t eat anything even remotely exciting. (By “won’t eat” I mean, will throw trantrums and food on the floor and then sobs until we bring out the blueberries and ritz crackers). You’ve alluded to similar problems in the past, so I’m curious to hear your thoughts on how to handle it. I can’t get in with the “if you don’t eat this, you don’t eat” mindset with my work schedule and wanting to have screaming-free time with my son. You’re basically my guru for all things food related, so I’d appreciate any advice you can offer. Thanks!!

    1. deb

      I am completely still figuring it out, too. Realistically, my son (7) is not a terrible eater and is mostly willing to try new things at home. He actually had a clam or two before saying he didn’t like them, but that’s all I need because whatever, he tried something new and probably won’t reject it next time. My 14 month-old I think will be much pickier. She only wants to eat fruit, very specific vegetables and some meat and throws everything else on the floor until we give up and bring out the blueberries. Maybe because this is my 2nd, I’m not too worried. We always offer her new foods and she’ll either eat them or she doesn’t. If she wants to eat a lot of fruit, I can’t take issue with it as it’s perfectly good for her. If you’re even close to having a single meal for all of you at 15 months, you’re doing an amazing job. I am not sure we were quite there the first time around at this point.

      I’m having a lot of fun lately doing things like this Cobb Salad and variations on this Chicken Gyro and basically anything I can deconstruct over a big platter or two and the kids can eat the parts they want (and keep us out of it, heh). I try to post at least one dinner idea a day (often with recent successes) on FB, Twitter and Instagram, if you follow SK in any of those places.

      1. Hilariously, my son’s favorite food is blueberries as well! Something about being born in the summer of 2015, perhaps? I’m big on just putting stuff on his tray for him to play with (or throw on the floor, obviously). He used to eat chicken and salmon but now won’t touch either. I’ll keep plugging along though (and searching for blueberries that don’t cost $6 a pint! Ugh! Winter!)

        I definitely follow all of your social media and subscribe to your newsletter! You’re the best!

    2. SarahfromVA

      (I’m not Deb, Lara, OBVS, but this is the Internet and therefore random people will answer your requests for advice even if they are directed at a specific person!)

      I found this article — — very helpful. It’s aimed at living with an adult picky-eater, but most of the principles apply.

      I particularly like “unlock the power of the side dish”. I have three kids (5, 3 and 1), and NONE of them will touch chili, which thing I love and is so easy and fast I feel like I have to have it all the time as soon as the weather is cold enough — but I don’t love it enough to argue with my children every time we serve it. So I kind of gave up on it until I read the article and decided to always have a side of cornbread. Now they fill up on cornbread and kind of poke at the chili, but I think it’s most important that everybody is happy, and I still get chili, and they are at least EXPOSED to chili and will maybe eat it someday.

      Now, my mother-in-law makes fish sticks and fries for them every time we have a meal at her house, and I think that’s going too far. But a bowl of fruit or sweet potatoes or bread on the side is not the end of the world. Your son will not starve, you’ll get to eat what you want, and there will (hopefully!) be less crying.

      (Also, 15 mos is very, very young. Still a baby! Babies have simple tastes because they’re babies. When he’s three you may want to get a little stricter on making fewer things, but if a 15-month-old eats only 10 things, it’s like, hey, that’s 9 more things than a year ago, when he only had milk!)

      1. deb

        This is great, I agree. We do a lot of side dish-ing as well, and as I said above, breaking things down into their elements whenever possible. (I.e. we had great big bowls of Cobb Salad for dinner, the kids had chunks of chicken and avocado and tomato, etc.) The only downside is that I routinely kvetch about the number of items I’m bringing to the table. I’ve counted 12 before. It’s not sane.

    3. Kris

      I highly recommend the book ‘How to get your kid to eat but not too much’. Inspired by the book we have the rule ‘eat it, or don’t eat it, but don’t talk about it’ to reduce the ‘ewws’ and ‘yucks’. We try to put out nuts, raw veggies and fruit with whatever the meal is (we’re vegetarian) as the ‘side dish’ so my son (4.5) will have something to eat regardless of his interest in the main course. Basically anything to avoid control battles and give him time to try things on his own timetable. I will say though, happy as I am with this approach it, kids and food can be a bit crazy-making! My son loved everything at 18 months, spicy, Thai, sushi, bitter food, it didn’t matter, and we’re now in the great preschool wasteland of PBJ, string cheese and blueberries. I try to have faith that he’ll come back around. So, 15 months is young!

    4. jill palumbo

      I think the key is to just keep offering, not just once or twice but over and over. Eventually they will get used to seeing the food and may pick up better eating habits. I think a lot of parents just give up and serve the little ones exactly what they will eat and they don’t get any variety or a chance to like new food. When mine were little, no one I knew fixed two meals. Our kids just ate what we ate (unless it was very weird or too spicy) and to this day they will try new things and eat a better variety than I do.

      1. Claire

        I was told when my daughter was a baby that I should not give up on a particular food until I’d offered it 30 times!
        It’s definitely a long game with kids and foods, so we need to hang in there.
        She’s 8 now and eats pretty well.

    5. sarah

      Our pediatrician completely freed me from all kid-feeding anxiety by asking very early on, “Well, is she getting what she needs over the course of a week?” And the answer to that was always yes. Over the week our kid was getting tons of good, healthy stuff, just the occasional dinner fail got in the way some nights.

      1. Donna

        This is the attitude I take with our 20 month old. Who, to be fair, is (at the moment) a pretty good eater (and I’m well aware this could change). If he’s generally getting a good, balanced, diet then battling over the odd meal isn’t worth it.
        I also find that trying to serve his main meal at lunch time helps as he’s more receptive to it than at the end of the day (and that’s the policy his nursery has so I try to stick to their schedule). He then tends to graze a bit more for dinner when he’s getting tired.
        Kids pick up on anxiety so trying to relax about meals really helps.

  3. This is dinner magic! After a long day at work, 7 minutes for clams & bread is perfect. My husband loves clams and would totally love this, and to the previous commenter with kids, my kids probably won’t eat the clams, but while I’m toasting the bread I would probably throw some cheese on a couple of the slices and just make grilled cheese sandwiches.

    1. Yes, I was wondering the same thing! I am near Boston as well, and despite this being a seafood-rich area, I can never find these darn little clams anywhere! Every time I see them pop up on an European blog or IG photo, I crave them.

  4. A great way to purge clams (even if the outside is clean they may still have grit in the digestive system – being filter feeders and all) is a 50/50 ice + salted water combo, with some cornmeal sprinkled in. You can leave them in it long enough to thoroughly purge (they consume the cornmeal and expel the grit) without being in danger of the tap water killing them. :D

  5. Sowmya

    Hey Deb,

    I have a question for you (completely unrelated to this recipe, sorry) but you are not obligated to respond if you don’t like to, I would totally understand.

    I take you as an authority on recommending good recipes/ useful kitchen tools (my favorite items in the kitchen are the recos I found on your site) promising cookbooks etc. without any bias since you are clear that you do not accept items to be featured by marketers. Recently I noticed an event where you partnered with a cookbook author I haven’t heard about a lot but the recipes you featured of hers convinced me that it was a good investment. Now, I read about another upcoming event with an author who I personally think cooks a lot of “out of reach” recipes and doesn’t generally make me want to cook-this-now when I read her blog. That’s my personal opinion by the way :) I guess this is my long-winded way of asking if you partnering with them is an endorsement of their book(if you are, I’d definitely be interested in giving it a try) or should that be seen as an event you are just being a part of (I totally get that blogs cannot be a sole source of income).

    I apologize for this unnecessarily long question but as you can see I take your recommendations very seriously ;)

    1. deb

      Hi Sowmya — First, yes, I don’t work with brands. I don’t accept freebies or do sponsored posts or paid endorsements. Everything you read about here was purchased by me.

      I do, however, like to support other authors whose work I enjoy. [And vice-versa, when I book-toured in 2012 and 2013, I was often on stage with a local author or food writer. It’s a fairly standard kind of book event.] I am not paid for these events. While they’re, I’d say, a level of endorsement, it’s the books I share recipes from and/or discuss more at length here that I am the most excited about and believe others may be too. I’d consider that my strongest endorsement.

  6. shirley willihnganz

    Someone told me that a two year old only needs two tablespoons of food a meal to be adequately nourished. That might have been the kindest thing anyone ever told me! Bring on the blueberries, and the rest of us can eat clams and bread.

  7. Nicole

    I’m now (mostly) vegan, but I still read every word of your posts and I’m glad I clicked through to that photo! I can’t wait to give king oyster mushrooms mushrooms treatment for date night

  8. Leanne S

    Now don’t scream in some sort of fury but could I do this with, um, clams from a can? I don’t think there’s a good source of fresh (not previously) frozen clams in my neighborhood, although honestly, the whole cleaning, getting rid of the ones that don’t open, freaks me out just a little.

    1. deb

      I haven’t worked with, well, I just typed clammed cans so I’m probably a little sleepy. ;) But if you use them in other dishes, don’t see why not here. If they’re already cooked, maybe you just heat them in the garlic/butter/wine sauce and scoop them on the bread?

    2. Lipstick Librarian

      Hi Leanne,
      Frozen clams would work well, We have them in our local grocery store and when I want to make a vat of clam chowder soup I use them successfully.

      As for cleaning them to get rid of grit, I often don’t bother. I just keep them in a big bowl of ice until I need them. They are raised in water farms so there is very dirt or grit.

  9. Dear Debb, thank you for bringing us back to the very special country and sharing very special but easy to make dinner. It seems that this is going to be my pleasure only since my son is not into clams but, of course, I am not complaining :-)
    While waiting to see your next creation,
    Happy cooking !

  10. Dahlink

    I am rather astounded that broccoli seems to be a favored food for your kids. Our first born hated it with a passion, so when our younger son arrived we automatically offered him another vegetable–until the night when he looked around the table and said “Hey, where’s MY broccoli?”

    You have single-handedly put Portugal on our “must visit” list.

    1. deb

      Heh. One kid likes it, but only “green” broccoli, it must be steamed or parboiled, never roasted until charred, the way we prefer it. The younger one isn’t terribly interested, although she did chomp on some broccoli slaw last night (the older won’t eat it because it has dressing on it) so maybe there’s hope.

      I have a separate theory that kids likes/dislikes have very little to do with tastes and a lot to do with wanting mom and dad to listen to them, to remember that dressing = bad, roasted = bad. I think this is why they’re often more likely to be peer-pressured into trying new things if eating with other people.

      1. Research is showing that kids’ likes/dislikes might actually have to do with allergies and low tolerances for some foods, and that’s played out in our family. My oldest was cranky after having ice cream or cheese; turns out there’s a lactose intolerance. My youngest refused to touch orange/yellow food; a trip to the doc showed an allergy to peanuts, sweet potatoes, and
        mangos. “Bad” doesn’t always mean a plea for attention.

  11. Looks delicious. Unfortunately, I live in a landlocked area, many miles from fresh seafood. I dubiously eye “fresh” seafood at the store, and have been tempted a few times, only to be disappointed.

    How do people who live far away from oceans, know if seafood at the store is worth buying?

    1. Most of the supposedly “fresh” seafood you see is previously frozen and should be labelled as such – sometime in really fine print. There is nothing wrong with previously frozen except you must cook it very soon, you can’t refreeze it. If you don’t live close to fresh seafood I suggest sticking to frozen. There is plenty of good quality frozen seafood out there.

  12. This looks delicious! Steamed clams are one of my favorite dishes (but there’s really nothing I don’t like if it’s loaded with garlic and butter). Sometimes I like to add a little chourico for some extra Portuguese flair :)

  13. Hah! This is my father’s go to boat dinner. He has a sailboat on Puget Sound and we will sail to a good clamming beach during the day, then in the evening cook up the clams we dug this way. Though we usually serve them over noodles. It’s a quick, delicious, dinner that’s easy to make on a two burner galley stove.

  14. sparkgrrl658

    my partner is ten years older than me…and he’s the one who gets fish sticks when i want to make shellfish for myself, lol! it’s worth it and we are both happy. this is a great way to do mussels too (sometimes clams are expensive, bad, or nonexistent at the market), and to further remove it from the original you could use beer instead of wine.

    or, if you have more time and no booze, do things clamboil style. in RI this is actually a portuguese standard. throw some pantry onions (peeled but left whole), red skinned potatoes (whole, unpeeled, not the baby ones), and whole portuguese chorico (pronounced “sha-REESE”) into a pot, cover with water until things float around freely, and leave it to boil on the stove. once everything is tender, remove it to a vessel with a lid to keep warm. (if you have little kids (like me growing up!), throw in a few hot dogs at the end.) then toss the clams into the broth. (we use steamers & littlenecks.) fish them out as they open, and serve with a mug of the broth and a dish of melted butter. still my favorite thing to have my mom make when i visit home :)

  15. Mike J

    I made this last night after a long day at work and it was 1.) super easy; and 2.) absolutely delicious. For some odd reason, I had never made anything with clams before. This provided the perfect inspiration to break out of my rut. Thanks!

  16. Valerie

    I love this thread, both for that wonderful clam dish and for all the kid advice. I’m WAY past having small kids at home, but when I was a kid, my mom put a meal on the table and we either ate it or didn’t, but she sure as heck wasn’t going to make us anything separately. Fast forward to when her grandson was little and would only eat “nerdles” (twistee noodles with butter). Guess what my mom prepared at EVERY SINGLE family get together. Nice.

  17. therichfamily2004

    Mom of six young ones here — just wanted to share a tidbit a wise pediatrician shared with me years ago. A tablespoon (of most foods) per year of age is a serving. A TABLESPOON! Totally eased all my kid-food worries. And my oldest has made it 13 years, so I think it was good advice. Wish my husband liked clams — I’d be all over this.

  18. Rebecca

    Whole Foods only had larger clams, about 10-12/lb, and I got worried when they were still completely closed after 3 minutes (did I get ALL bad clams???), but after about 7-8 min, they popped right open! Super quick, brag-worthy weeknight dinner. Treat yourself!

  19. Gerley

    You know what I love about you, Deb? Aside from everything of course !?
    You make this kind of dish accessible. Never in a million years would I have pictured myself making clams- this is something you eat at a restaurant, right? Done by people who know how to make this kind of stuff, right?
    But with you taking my hand (well virtually AND across an ocean that is) and saying: “This is really simple to be honest” I am already thinking where I could buy clams and that I can totally envision myself doing this.

    I wonder though: There is this rule I have heard that you can only eat clams in certain months when they are “in season”?
    In Germany only months with “m” which makes no sense, since “SepteMber” would be okay but nein nein nein in “Oktober” and okay again in “NoveMber”? They take a holiday? Does anyone have insights?

    1. Donna

      I had always thought that the adage was that you should only eat oysters, mussels, etc when there is an ‘r’ in the month. Some people believe it to be because algal blooms occur in hotter months causing a higher likelihood of food poisoning but having just read up on it, it would appear that it’s more to do with the fact that the quality of some shellfish is worse in the summer months as that’s their ‘breeding season’. Oysters tend to be milkier and mussels, clams, etc smaller/empty.

    2. Karen

      My sentiments exactly! And from someone who works near the shellfish industry in Washington State, regular monitoring occurs in the US around shellfish beds, and they are closed whenever the levels of toxins get high enough to cause risk. Which isn’t to say that people never get sick, but if you’re buying your shellfish from a reputable dealer (and not digging it yourself or your store is buying from a poacher’s pickup), you’re at reasonably low risk. Around here, July, August and September are highest risk for toxins. The Washington Department of Health has an entire program devoted to shellfish with maps of closures; I imagine other coastal states do as well.

  20. Diane Salzberger

    Have you ever made Pierre Franey’s Linguine with White Clam Sauce? (Recipe is in his 60-Minute Gourmet cookbook.) This recipe reminds me of many wonderful meals with Pierre Franey.

  21. I have a question for you – because it’s something that’s been kind of stumping me. I love making clams and mussels at home but recently, after a billion weeks of restriction dieting discovered with my GI that I shouldn’t eat garlic or onions. I can have *some* but not much more than a teaspoon’s worth. Without getting into how sad this is, I’ve been looking for ideas for preparing clams and mussels without the garlic or onions (shallots seem to be better than other onions though) – in other dishes I’ve been experimenting with flavor from different chilis and herbs. Any great ideas for prepping clams/mussels without the onion or garlic (or with it very much so minimalized)? Thanks- your website is THE BEST

    1. STEPH

      fiche, pardon my butting in here on your question to deb! but just some ideas…i’ve often seen thai curry broths for mussel preparation. maybe you could buy jar of the prepared sauce and mix a tablespoon into your simmering butter, a splash of coconut milk, and then add your stock and see how it goes? i also wonder if using bacon fat (or lamb fat) instead of butter (in this and other recipes), and then herbs and spices, would be fun replacement for the onion & garlic combo. moroccan spices taste great with lamb. or try a smoked paprika. i guess i’m thinking of smoky as a satisfying alternative to garlic & onion.

        1. Lipstick Librarian

          Hi Fiche,
          Perhaps some shallots, maybe try a tablespoon of finely minced, and green onions might be a milder substitute?
          I also think Steph’s suggestion of using Thai curry sauce would be very acceptable. Good luck and enjoy experimenting :)

  22. I prepare mussels this way all the time! It makes for a fancy-feeling weeknight dinner. For when guests come over, I like to serve them with your kale salad with pecorino and walnuts. I think that dipping buttered bread into the broth may be one of my absolute favourite foods.

  23. This was wonderful! My used to be a seriously-insane-picky-eater-child is now on a seafood kick, and this was our second time in the kitchen playing. (First attempt: paella, he liked the mussels but was offended at the combination of meats, ha) The fresh clams were a major hit, we had so much fun with prep, and he sucked the broth off the shells while taking out the meat!

    I didn’t mince the shallot’s, mistake! I had a medium chop, OOPS, so there is an unfortunate bitterness that I’m hoping will cook out when I reheat the leftovers. But that was just a logistical error, trying to prep, teach/converse and walk back and forth between the laptop and kitchen…

    Cheers, Deb!! Thank you. :)

  24. Garlic + Zest

    These are absolutely one of my all time favorites – the clams you found are so small – love that. The clams I get here in South Florida are much larger, so I opt for mussels – same-diff! Delicious!

  25. Lipstick Librarian

    Hi Deb,
    This type of meal is one of our family’s favourite. My 19 year old son has eaten mussels and /or clams once a week since he was 5 years old. The first time was at a restaurant and I had ordered mussels for myself and for him, a hamburger. When our dinners arrived, he insisted on eating one of my mussels and then demanded that we make a trade. The servers, hostesses and restaurant owners were so astounded by this sight of a little 5 year old boy happily prying the mussels out of their shells with his fingers that they purposely would steer newly arrived patrons past our table and proudly show off my son, describing him as a ‘young person with a sophisticated palate’.

  26. Frances

    Wow wow wow wow wow! We just made this, and it was AMAZING! It was incredibly short on time and effort, and that made the end result even more awesome. Was a little concerned because we’ve never cooked with clams before, and they took more like 5 minutes to pop open, but it turned out wonderfully. So excited to have this recipe :-) thank you!

  27. Sheena

    I made this last weekend and it was my first time making clams. This recipe was so easy and delicious! It took away my fear of cooking clams. I may have made some extra toasts to soak up all of that delicious broth. Buy more clams than you think you need, because of the ones you might need to discard.

  28. dolphus

    You forgot to mention that the clams making a very pleasing pop-pop-pop noise as they open up! We judged our cookign time the same way we do microwave popcorn ;)

  29. EL

    It’s the simple things that often taste best. This is the way I was taught to cook clams, but they are really a seasonal food out here and I don’t get them any more since I moved to Montana. But that could change. . .

  30. We’ve made this three times now, and it’s consistently delicious! The second time we made it, our almost 2 year old decided that gnawing on the clam stumps helps with teething. The third time, the night before last, she jumped in whole-heartedly once she figured out she could just pick up the whole clam, pull the meat out herself, and chow down!

    I have one question. I noticed this time that some of the larger clams had a more earthy, pungent taste. Is there a reason for that along the lines of they shouldn’t be cooked, or do different clams just naturally have different flavors? Thanks!

    1. deb

      Not an expert and suspect others will have better responses, but I’d assume just different flavors. I do prefer the small ones because to me they seem the most sweet, but it might also be luck of the draw.

  31. I was thinking about whether there was a better than average sub for the dairy in this formula that would accomplish that dazzling surface? I know it won’t be the same by miles however I am lactose into. what’s more, as a rule do the great white wine/garlic juices thing with olive oil for my steamed shell companions.

  32. jmigueldelgado

    Loved reading. Apparently there are two clubs in Portugal: those who steam them with wine and those who do it with the juice of a couple of lemons. The second group tends to be more purist and never tolerates white wine and seafood cooked together. After some experiences trying out both options, I learned that wine gives a subtle and undesired bitterness to some seafood.

    And some kids love clams!

    1. Rick

      Would it be a sacrilege to use white cooking wine? I’m not a wine drinker, but I can buy a small bottle of ‘real’ wine if necessary.

  33. Kathy

    Hi Deb :-)! These will be tomorrow night’s dinner…even thought it’s still cold, foggy, and rainy in New England!!! ….I am such an enormous fan of your incredible recipes…they’re always delicious, simple to cook, and make everyone around our table happy! It would be SOOOOOO wonderful if you would allow your admirers to “favorite” your recipes so we can return to your website over and over again and say “oh, I LOVED that and want to make it again tonight”. My old brain can never remember what I’ve made and being able to create our own recipe book, of sorts, would be such a wonderful addition!!! I am quite frequently on my way to/fro and trying to decide what to make for dinner…having my very own “favorites” list would certainly help!!! THANKS!!!!!!!

  34. Sarah

    Hi, Deb — reading a lot about how to purge sand in clams because I’ve struggled so much with it in the past. Many recipes say soak at least 18 hours in a salt water bath (no salt = dead clams, they say). I see that you recommend just soaking in regular water while you prep. Do you really have no grit with this method? I love clams but just get so bummed out when I bite into grit. Wondering if you have any additional insight or experience here. Thanks in advance.

    1. deb

      I haven’t taken an extensive measures before because I don’t seem to be buying very gritty clams — almost nothing comes out. I roughly follow this. I have never heard to soak them in salt water.

    2. I soak in salty as the sea water for 20 minutes and then fresh for 5-10… almost never any grit. The salt water does a better job purging, the fresh water is so they aren’t too salty to eat. You can do the salt water/fresh water 2 times if needed.

  35. Kathleen

    Made this over the weekend – awesome recipe. I had 50 little neck clams, quadrupled the sauce and served over linguine, with bread for dipping of course. Not one leftover to be had. So simple and so so good. As usual, your recipes never disappoint.

  36. Andrea Ellis

    Families are so different! My picky daughter loves clams. I can’t remember how I found out because I don’t like shellfish at all. So when I make a special meal for me and my husband, I make her some clams. This is a great recipe too, fast and easy. She loves it!

  37. Pam Dorion

    The Garluc Butter Wine Steamed Clams were delicious! My husband, who is very picky, said the meal tasted like it came from a high end restaurant! I did serve the claims with Saffron Jasmine Rice, fresh asparagus, and of course, thick sliced sour dough bread with butter. Yum!

  38. I made this along with your green bean & tomato salad for a summery date night dinner. My first time attempting clams and it was all delicious. Thank you for sharing both recipes!

  39. Donald J Wood

    Thanks for the suggestion. I did mine in a clam steamer. I added some onion and copped red bell pepper. After saute, I added to cups of water and three cups of Sauvignon Blanc. When it started to boil I added about a pound and a half of steamers for about 3 minutes. OMG what a flavor. I’m 62 and I’ve lived in New England most of my life. I’ve never had steamers that were so tender and succulent.

  40. Christina

    This recipe for butter steamed clams looks delicious. I’ve tried a similar dish in Macau, which was a Portuguese territory and would love tasting the real thing in Portugal!

  41. Skye Greenfield Cohen

    This sounds delicious and a perfect snack for our rooftop 5th of July party! How would you recommend scaling the recipe? I’m planning to make about about 60 clams for our group but scaling the butter/wine etc by the same factor sounds like way too much?

      1. Skye Greenfield Cohen

        Hmm both Whole Foods and Fresh Direct sell them by the piece but google tells me there’s 7-10 per pound so it could be anywhere from 6 – 8 1/2 pounds which I guess isn’t very helpful? I guess there’s not a generic rule of thumb I could follow haha Either way, thanks for getting back to me so quickly!

  42. The best dinner I can imagine – every bit as good as it looks/sounds and maybe even a little bit better. Thank you, as ever, Deb, for the guidance. This one came together so quickly and delightfully! I used onions and shallots because those were what I had prepped in my fridge and at the end of a long day of driving and town errands, when I wasn’t much for prep. Onions did as well as garlic would have here, I’m convinced. The liquid they steep in is magic that imbues them too, and you’ll want to drink every last drop of it. 100 percent perfect!

  43. Mike Czechowski

    You should remove the link referred to in the second paragraph here “ameijoas-a-bulhao-pato-clams-steamed-with-vinho-verde-garlic-and-cilantro” because Lucky Peach no longer exists as a magazine or Web site.

  44. CJ

    Deb, this has become our favorite dinner. After eating steamed clams at a little oyster place on the canal, we brought some clams home and followed your recipe. They are even better than the ones from the restaurant! Thank you so much for your brilliant recipe. It is unbelievable that I can make such a great dinner with so little effort. I think my husband loves you.

  45. The BEST ever… simple recipe, perfectly proportioned and seasoned… fresh clams from Humboldt Bay, Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, grass fed butter, local whole grain sourdough batard toasted with the olive oil was *the* chef’s kiss! Heirloom black pineapple tomatoes with mozzarella and flaked salt on the side. Deb… I’ve LONG loved SM, but this amazing number steals the clam!

  46. Vic

    Great technique! And a wonderful and quick meal. Feels slightly fancy, but so easy. The clams I used were bigger (around 1 inch) and it took closer to 8 minutes for most of mine to open.