Pepper Jelly Clams

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Photo by Brenda Maitland

Have you ever been to a restaurant and had a dish so delicious, that you could not wait to get back home and attempt to cook your version of it yourself?

Well, that was just one my experiences recent  upon a visit to one of my favorite citnola-mopho-2014ies in whole wide world…….New Orleans. The restaurant was, “MoPho’s” , which is a little slice of heaven where the soul Vietnamese cuisine meets the melange of food that is the heart of Louisiana, is located in  Mid-City at 514 City Park Avenue.Everything on the menu is great and affordable. Trust me,you will love it!

If you ever spent any time in the Crescent City, then “you know what it means, to miss New Orleans”……the people, the music, and the food…..sigh, but I digress.

Between Spring and Summer, I just cannot get enough of fresh seafood. And MoPhos’s Pepper Jelly Clams by Chef Michael Gulotta fits the bill. This dish is the epitome of the meeting of two cultures: Southeast Asia and the American South.  Besides sharing a similar climate, Southeast Asian countries and New Orleans  also have river deltas where brackish water flows into clean clear waters, that sweet spot where you can find some of the best seafood during a given season.

Chef Gulotta uses little neck clams from Cedar Key Florida, but the stars of this dish are the Thai inspired ingredients, that make it spectacular.

At the restaurant, the dish is served with annatto beignets for dipping, but warm, crusty bread is just as satisfying. I opted for a Southern favorite cornbread to be served along side my version of this dish……

Adapted from Executive Chef-Partner Michael Gulotta of MoPho Restaurant.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

84 clams (rinsed well under cold running water to remove grit)
1/2 cup coconut oil or neutral oil
2 Tablespoons ginger, minced
2 Tablespoons garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons shallots, minced
2 teaspoons Thai chili paste
2 cups white wine
2 cups sweet cooking mirin
1/2 stalk lemongrass, crushed
2 cups coconut milk
3 Tablespoons butter
2 cups pepper jelly
Juice and zest of one lime
10 leaves of mint, torn
Kosher salt , to taste

To garnish:
12 strips prosciutto
Fresh mint leaves

 

Directions:
In a large braising pan set over medium-high heat, lightly toast the ginger, garlic, shallot, and Thai chili paste in the coconut oil. When the aromatics become golden brown, add in the rinsed clams followed by the white wine, mirin, and lemongrass stalk. Cover the pan and let the clams simmer until they open, about seven minutes.

Once the clams open, remove the cover and add in the coconut milk, butter, and one cup of the pepper jelly. Simmer the clams for an additional minute and then add the lime juice, zest, and torn mint leaves. Season with salt to taste.

To serve, remove the lemongrass stalk and portion the clams into six warmed bowls and garnish with fresh mint leaves, shaved prosciutto, and a few dollops of the remaining pepper jelly.

You can find the original recipe here.


Christmas 2014: Feast of the Seven Fishes

The Feast of the Seven Fishes (Italian: Festa dei sette pesci), also known as The Vigil (Italian: La Vigilia), is a  Southern Italian and Italian-American celebration of Christmas Eve with meals of fish and other seafood.

The long tradition of eating seafood on Christmas Eve dates from the Roman Catholic tradition of abstinence.A traditional holiday meal  may include seven, eight, or even nine specific fishes that are considered traditional. The most famous dish Southern Italians are known for is baccalà (salted cod fish). The custom of celebrating with a simple fish such as baccalà is attributed to the greatly impoverished regions of Southern Italy. Fried smelts, calamari and other types of seafood have been incorporated into the Christmas Eve dinner over the years.

A typical modern Christmas Eve  Feast  may include some combination of anchovies, whiting, lobster, sardines, dried salt cod, smelts, eels, squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels and clams.

The menu may also include pastas, vegetables, baked or fried kale patties, baked goods and homemade wine. This tradition remains very popular to this day.

Below are few of the dishes that were apart of our Feast of the Seven Fishes.

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Seafood Risotto with Shrimp, Asparagus
and Mushrooms

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Baked Stuffed Trout with Oyster Stuffing

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Seafood Gumbo with Quail, Blue Crab and White Clams

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Calamari Fra Diavolo with Squid Ink Pasta

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Shrimp with Zucchini  Linguine

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Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli with Spinach Basil Pesto and Shaved Parmesan

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Fried Calamari

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Cioppino Seafood Soup with Sourdough Rounds

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Escarole and Fig Salad

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Pannattone


Ciabatta Flatbread Pizzas

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Ciabatta Flatbread Pizzas:

Sometimes, just going through your fridge, you will find some amazing left overs and other odds and ends that will make a quick and delicious meal. Here is what I was able to create with just left overs, a bit of cheese and some toasted sliced ciabatta flatbread.

Top: Clams Casino with Little neck clams, fresh Tomatoes, Bacon, Mozzarella Cheese, Oregano, Parsley, Garlic and Herb Cheese Spread and Basil.

Foreground: Roasted Duck with Dates, Gorgonzola Cheese, Parmesan Cheese, Arugula and Garlic and Herb Cheese Spread.