Clam Custard

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


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By Ben Shewry

Published 2012

  • About


  • 250 g (9 oz) live clams
  • 18 litres (630 fl oz) fresh seawater
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) water
  • 50 ml ( fl oz) white wine
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) organic soy milk
  • 1 free-range egg
  • table salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste
  • grape seed oil, for greasing


Clams bury themselves in sand and, naturally, accumulate plenty of grit in their shells, so they need to be purged in fresh seawater before cooking. It is a common mistake to purge shellfish in fresh tap water, which kills the clams and deprives us of their true flavour. Place the clams in a 20 litre (700 fl oz) capacity bucket of water filled with the seawater and leave for at least 12 hours. You need to use such a large volume of water so there is enough oxygen available for the clams.

Heat a medium saucepan until very hot, add the drained clams, the water and wine and cover with a lid. Steam until just cooked. Strain the clams and pass the cooking juices through a sieve lined with muslin (cheesecloth). Pick the clam meat from the shells and thinly slice. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Set up a steamer over low heat. Measure 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) of the clam juice, discarding the remainder, and pour into a bowl. Add the soy milk and egg, whisk well and season with salt and pepper. Pass through a fine sieve. Lightly grease four 200 ml (7 fl oz) capacity bowls with the oil and pour an even amount of custard into each.

Place the bowls inside the steamer and gently steam for 5–10 minutes or until the custard is just set. Remove from the steamer and cool to room temperature. Use a paper towel to remove any excess moisture from the top of each custard. Store, covered, at room temperature until needed.