While clams are abundant year-round on the west coast, I particularly love to enjoy them in the summertime. They make the perfect light (yet satisfying) summer meal, especially when they are combined with fresh summer flavours and eaten outdoors on a patio or at the beach.
This year, I decided to experiment with cooking clams. I typically steam-cook clams in a large pot on the stove, but realistically, I can do that any time of year. However, I can only grill my food for a few months before the rain starts up; so naturally, I opted for experimenting with grilling clams. After a few tries of experimenting with various ingredients and flavour combinations, I came back to keeping it simple, and that’s how my recipe for Simple Grilled Clams came to be!
Direct or Indirect, that is the Question
I had seen a few recipes where the clams were grilled directly on the metal grates of a grill. While I thought this would be great, I found that the tasty clam juices easily fall into the grill, rather than staying in the clam itself. In my opinion, the clam juice is the best part of eating clams and I didn’t want to lose any of those flavourful briny juices!
As a back-up option, I opted to cook the clams in my well-seasoned cast-iron pan. Not only did this pan capture all those delightful juices, it allowed me to add a few more summery ingredients to enhance the flavour of the clams.
My Favourite Summer Flavours
I opted to add garlic, white wine, and butter to my clams. This is super traditional and nothing out of the ordinary, but when you have such great seafood, you don’t want to mask it’s flavours too much.
As a final summery garnish, I added a few lemon slices and freshly chopped chives. I mean come on, this dish just LOOKS like summer in a pan! All of the flavours are light and fresh, which is perfect for summer, and more importantly, for tasting the true flavours of the star ingredient!
While I have a typical propane grill, I found that the clams still had a hint of smoky flavour to them. If you want a deeper smoky taste, try cooking these over a charcoal grill, or better yet, over a campfire! Alternatively, you can experiment by adding some wood chips to your grill to give them a different flavour as well! That would taste heavenly!
A Few Tips for Cooking Clams
Now whether it’s your first or hundredth time cooking clams, it’s always good to be aware of these tips:
- Always get your clams fresh, from a reputable local seafood shop (I get mine from Finest at Sea in Victoria), and use them the same day you purchase them
- Buy clams that are stored in flowing water tanks or on ice– these clams are more likely to be alive than those wrapped on plastic trays
- If you are harvesting your own clams, make sure to take safety precautions to avoid eating contaminated clams, or those that may be impacted by red tide (which could lead to shellfish poisoning). In Canada, check the Department of Fisheries and Oceans website for information on closures and areas where you should not harvest (don’t worry…seafood sold in shops are tested thoroughly before they get to store tanks!)
- Wash your clams thoroughly to remove any grit and sand that may be on them
- Before cooking, inspect the clams and discard any that are cracked or that do not close when you give them a light tap–these are dead
- After cooking, discard any clams that do not open–these are dead
If you follow these tips, you will have no problems with cooking and eating these delicious Simple Grilled Clams! Let me know in the comments below if you have ever cooked clams at home before and what ways you like them prepared!
For the full recipe for Simple Grilled Clams, scroll down below! Enjoy!
Get the Recipe!
Simple Grilled Clams
- 1 1/2 pounds mussels
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/4 cup white wine or water if you don't drink
- 4 tablespoons chives finely chopped
- Lemon slices for garnish
- Begin by cleaning the clams. Place the clams in a large bowl with enough water to cover them completely. Add the flour and toss everything together. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes without disturbing the clams. The clams will drink the water and flour mixture and will expel any salt water or sand that may be inside them. Once fully soaked, drain the clams and rinse thoroughly.
- Preheat your grill to 400 degrees F.
- Place the clams in a cast iron pan (or other grill-safe dish). Add the garlic, butter and wine. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and place on the hot grill. Close the lid of the grill and let the clams cook for 6-9 minutes, or until they have all opened up.
- Give the clams a toss and garnish with the chives and lemon slices.
- Serve warm from the grill with some grilled bread and enjoy!