Life’s a Feast: Clams with black garlic and shallots

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If you eat out in Wanaka, then Francesca’s Italian Kitchen should be on your radar. The magnificent Italian restaurant uses fresh produce to transport you to Italy with its smells and flavours. I was there (in Wanaka, not Italy) recently with my brother and we chose the clams with black garlic butter as a starter. I was so enchanted with this unique but simple way to serve these clams, I decided to try to create something similar at home. Black garlic is essentially fermented garlic, created through a process of heating fresh garlic (with humidity) over several weeks or months. It has a sweetness to it you don’t get with raw and has a unique umami flavour. Wonderful to wow your mates or a simple family lunch. Enjoy!

PREP TIME: 10 MINS
COOK TIME: 10 MINS
SERVES: 2-3 PEOPLE

Ingredients

1kg clams
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium shallot, finely-diced
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely-sliced
200ml dry white wine
4 cloves black garlic (or one heaped tablespoon of black garlic paste, both from Raeward Fresh)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Handful flat leave parsley, leaves separated
1 ciabatta loaf

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C
  2. To make the black garlic paste, simply peel the skin off four large cloves and combine with vege oil and a pinch of salt. I blended mine in a spice blender. If you don’t have one, just crush with a fork and thoroughly mix in a bowl, as black garlic is very soft.
  3. Wash clams and remove beards or dirt on the shells. You can assume if they are from a fish shop most of the sand will be removed. If not, soak in salty water for half an hour, drain, and change the water and soak for a further 30 minutes.
  4. Pop bread in the oven and start on the clams.
  5. Take a large pot and melt the butter. Add shallots and chilli and cook for 3-4 mins to soften, but not brown.
  6. Pour in wine and bring back to the boil. Spoon in black garlic paste, combine, then add clams and quickly pop on the lid.
  7. The clams will start opening after 2-3 mins, but to get most of mine open it took 4 mins. They will over-cook if you leave any longer and become chewy. Gently shake the pot to ensure all clams are getting some of the delicious sauce on them.
  8. Remove from heat and pour into a large serving bowl. Sprinkle with a little extra fresh chilli and flat leaf parsley.
  9. Remove bread from the oven, slice and serve immediately with the clams. The divine sauce will have you mopping up every last drop. We used the leftover garlic paste and indulgently spread it over our bread before dipping

NB: If you want to add more clams for more people, you don’t need to make more sauce. There is enough sauce for up to 2kg clams, serving about 5-6 people.