Saturday, March 26, 2011
Northern Bay Adds Taste of Summer
A television ad for a seafood restaurant chain made my mouth water for lobster. So I called my friends Dan and Tony and they, too, were ready for the first lobster feed of the year. So Dan picked up a good-sized lobster for each of us, as well as six pounds of clams. Then the two came to my place, where I had a large kettle on the boil, ready for our seafood.
But we soon encountered a problem. I wasn’t sure if Dan was going to bring clams, so I picked up five pounds. This made a total of 11 pounds of clams, an awful lot for three guys, especially on top of a big old lobster.
So what to do with all those clams? We could in no way eat them. So it was decided to cook them anyway, eat what we wanted and leave the balance at my place. The next day, I would shuck them and make pickled clams, a favorite dish among our little group.
After shucking and rinsing the clams in their own broth, I packed them into Mason jars and added to each jar, two or three dried leaves of northern bay, a slight sprinkle of Old Bay Seasoning and then covered them with white vinegar. Then the jars went into the refrigerator, where the flavors of all the ingredients could properly mingle.
I harvest leaves of northern bay, Myrica species, in late summer, when the sweet, bay scent is powerful and the essential oil is most potent. Dried and stored in an airtight container, these are ready for use any time in not only pickled clams and mussels, but also soups and stews.
In about one week, we will tap into our pickled clams. And I’m sure that the extra flavor imparted by those wild bay leaves will give us a wee taste of summer.
These pickled clams are a delicious snack. I haven’t yet met anyone who could eat just one.