Finally after nearly a month after our extravagant trip to Spain, I am now sharing one of my favorite…absolutely favorite tapas..clams in green sauce or as they call it “Almejas en Salsa Verde”.
We certainly ate our way through Barcelona and San Sebastian in tapas and “pintxos” as they call it in San Sebastian.
One of our favorite spots was right off the main strip in Barcelona. Called “Cañete“, a small restaurant with amazing Yelp reviews. Even the locals at the hotel were in awe and made sure we told them how this amazing place. According to Yelp, everyone said the same thing, sit at the counter and learn your Spanish. The entire menu was in Catalan which was the main key in knowing this place was for the locals. As we arrived to this narrow door and off the strip, I say in my not-so perfect Spanish “Dos personas, Ferraro” hoping that would make some sense to them and not make us feel like dumb American tourists. The next thing I know, the waiter in his starched white jacket, flees us to the only 2 open seats at the counter.
And this was our view. Overlooking the fabulous cooks doing what they do best. We were nearly a feet away from the main stove and you certainly felt like you were in a hot kitchen. There were about 10 staff, some waiters, some cooks and 1 expediter which I am assuming was head chef. The kitchen was spotless and everyone ran smoothly They all had a job and they all worked together like a perfectly tuned orchestra. We watched them freshly crack our clams and rub a sweet tomato against freshly grilled bread. It was not just the dinner, it was the entertainment. Watching and listening to the orders being called out and picking at what words I remembered from high school Spanish class. The entire night was amazing. If this is how the Spaniards eat and respect their food, I could live on their cuisine.
And boy am I glad that I took these quick shots of our dinner. The above is what I attempted to replicate for this recipe. One of the beautiful things I learned about Spanish cuisine is that there is not a lot of butter, if any in most of their dishes. Spain has some of the best olive oil I have ever tasted and they know it. It is not too overpowering and still gives the dish enough fat and coating to hold on to. With this recipe, I knew there had to be some kind of thickening agent but I was sure there was not any butter in the dish we had at Cañete. So to the olive oil, I added just a tablespoon of flour which worked perfectly. The flour fused with the olive oil and made a simple paste. Then when I added wine and liquid, the entire sauce thickened beautifully and coated the back of my spoon just like it was supposed to. They call it “green sauce” because..well it’s green, which comes from the fresh parsley added in.
I hope my rendition of this simple clams and green sauce proves my new found love of Spanish cuisine. Simple and fresh ingredients is what it’s all about!
Clams in Green Sauce (Almejas en Salsa Verde)
- 24 clams
- 2 garlic cloves chopped
- 1/4 onion chopped
- 1 Tb flour
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1 cup water
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Bunch of fresh parsley chopped
- Olive oil for drizzling
- Salt and pepper to taste
- First clean your clams. Allow them to soak in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes. Then take each clam and use a soft brush or wet towel to clean the outside shell. A good tip is to not pour out the clams and water, instead remove them one by one. You can then allow to to sit in another bowl while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- In a large skillet, drizzle olive oil and add chopped onion. Allow onion to cook for about 5 minutes until it begins to caramelize. Then add garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to cook for another 3 minutes until the garlic begins to caramelize. .
- Add flour and use a spoon to cook the flour into the olive oil. It should form a paste. Next add white wine and a cup of water and salt and pepper and increase heat. Continue to stir so all the flour is cooked off and sauce begins to thicken.
- Add chopped parsley and clams and lower flame so sauce is simmering. Allow clams to cook until they begin to open and remove clams as they open. When all clams are removed, you can either continue cooking the sauce to reduce more. It should lightly coat the back of a spoon.
- When done, place clams in a bowl and pour sauce over. Garnish with extra parsley.