San Francisco Clambake with Instan Clam Broth

If we had to pick our favorite shellfish recipe, this would win, hands down. The idea is borrowed from the New England clambake: a large pit is dug at the beach and filled with hot stones, then topped with damp seaweed. Into this steamy pit is dumped layers of lobsters, clams, scampi, oysters, scallops, mussels-all in the shell-and sometimes topped with potatoes and ears of sweet corn in the husk. When all these goodies get steamed together, the result is one of the loftiest feasts since man learned to salt his food. The water-soaked pot, when you think of it, is really a clambake in miniature, and it does fabulous things to seafood. The following recipe is open to countless variations. If one type of seafood isn't in season, substitute another.

The sauce manufactured in the wet-pot is not to be thickened-drink it as a broth, or use it as a clam dip. If there's enough left over, save it as a stock for chowder.

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Ingredients

  • 1 dozen large prawns (scampi), in the shell
  • 1 dozen scallops
  • 2 dozen clams, in the shell
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 4 small green tomatoes, ground
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano or a pinch of dried oregano Pinch of dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 green pepper, sliced

Method

Wash all the shellfish in cold running water.

Presoak a clay pot, top and bottom, in water for 15 minutes.

Line the bottom of the presoaked pot with sliced onion, then add the clams. Top with the shrimp and scallops, then squeeze the lemon juice over. Add all the remaining ingredients.

Cover the pot and place it in a cold oven.

Set the oven temperature to 450 degrees.

Cook for 40 minutes.

When done, pour the liquid into small soup cups-do not thicken-and serve as a soup or clam dip.

Serve with saffron rice cooked with pine nuts and pimentoes.

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