Bean clams Bulhão Pato style

Bean clams Bulhão Pato style

A new year has just begun and I’m sure many of you have started to regret the extra pounds. Here is a recipe you can indulge on without feeling guilty about the extra calories; and because these clams are so small, you will take a while to eat them and will feel full after.

Feel free to dip your bread into the lovely sauce, choose some whole wheat seeded bread for slow carbohydrate absorption, meaning feeling fuller for a longer period of time.

This recipe is out of Nelson Carvalheiro’s book called Portuguese Travel Cookbook, where you can find some easy to make food goodies and learn all about their origin, meaning and tradition, through various beaten-down paths in Portugal.

Nelson describes the fact that these clams can be searched for on the beach. It’s a very common thing for locals to do, although it’s not legal. I myself used to pick them up and stuff them in my hat as a child, during the long-lasting sunsets and warm breezes that would keep me searching the sands, so we could have some for dinner.

To those who don’t know what they are, they are gorgeous. You must eat them.

Now, a little bit about this animal: here we eat them seasonally and by this I mean we cook them during months that have the letter ‘R’. That’s right! Except for the months of May, June, July and August, this delicacy is an essential part of our foodie gatherings, a relaxation, conversation, commensality induced dish to enjoy on a lazy Sunday afternoon (or any other day of the week, I might add).

Recipe by Nelson Carvalheiro

▪ 1 kg bean clams
▪ 2 tablespoons of olive oil
▪ 1 cup dry white wine
▪ 3 cloves of garlic
▪ Freshly-ground pepper
▪ Cilantro
▪ Lemon wedges

1. Make sure to buy fresh live bean clams. This is quite obvious, but still I’m sure some crazy person will go looking for the frozen stuff (don’t. Just, don’t). I acquired these at our local lota (place where the boats come in with fresh fish), where they provide sea water to clean the shellfish at home. Although they have already been previously depurated (so we don’t get sick with toxins), further cleaning in your own kitchen is easy and tasty (less residual sand). Wash the clams with the sea water, and let them set at least half an hour so they spit out all the gunk (cover with plastic wrap otherwise you will have a sprinkler party in your kitchen).
2. Slither the garlic, fry it in olive oil in a pan, without burning. Add the bean clams, lower the heat and let them open slowly.
3. Add the wine and cover so the vapour can help the uniform cooking, without overcooking.
4. Top with freshly-squeezed lemon juice, chopped cilantro and freshly-ground pepper.

Serve with extra lemon wedges, some bread for sauce dipping and a refreshing glass of white wine.

By Megan Melling

Megan Melling’s journey into the food world started in 2011 when she decided to enrol in Cookery and Food Production in Estoril. She was born American, but grew up in the Algarve, so she gets the best of two opposite culinary cultures. She has worked as a cook in Lisbon for the past year and is currently in the process of opening up a gourmet project in Lagos. Check out all of her personal recipes on her blog and facebook page Mel’s Vittles for some yummy photos and food facts.

Photo: Megan Melling