littleneck clams

Littleneck Clams

I love these little guys as a starter to a weekend meal. Meaty, delicious little creatures.

I take about a cup of dry white wine, a ¼ cup of water, one garlic clove and shallot (minced), and bring to a boil. You can use a steamer basket, or just throw the clams in to the hot liquid to cook until they are opened (just a few minutes). Do not overcook! 

I dip them in butter with a lemon wedge squeezed into it, and eat it with a fresh, warmed baguette. 


Hugh Merwin is the senior editor of Grub Street and wrote the article “Shell Station” in The Seashore Issue, in which he surveys eight different types of clams. Here, he shares his recipe for clam dip.

Take it away, Hugh:

I grew up working in a sort of broken-down clam bar on Long Island’s Great South Bay. One summer we took over the adjoining fish market—we just knocked a big hole in the wall with sledgehammers to connect the two spaces—and in the rubble I found a stack of old promotional recipe cards with instructions for the original Kraft Music Hall Clam Dip, which reportedly caused a shortage of canned clams in Manhattan the moment it was published in the 1950s. I replaced canned clams with fresh steamers, Worcestershire with some funky Roman-style garum. It was actually amazing, especially after letting the chilled and mixed ingredients mingle for a while. —Hugh Merwin

Clam Dip

Makes around 1 ¾ cups

18 littleneck or topneck clams, steamed in ¼ cup of water, cooled, and shucked
6 tablespoons clam cooking liquid
Juice of one lemon 
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon garum or Thai fish sauce
4 dashes Angostura bitters
8 ounces good-quality cream cheese
White pepper to taste

1. Combine clams, cooking liquid, lemon juice, salt, garum or fish sauce, and bitters in a food processor. Pulse until clams are rough-chopped and ingredients are blended. Add cream cheese and pulse, occasionally scraping down sides of food processor with spatula, until everything is smooth. Add white pepper to taste. Clam dip is best after it sits, refrigerated, for a few hours. Serve with sturdy potato chips.