-Clams in a Coconut-Lemongrass Broth
-Kohlrabi and Carrot Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette

There's something I find therapeutic about preparing clams at home. The sounds the shells make as they are added to the pot, the aromatic steam that escapes as you lift the lid, and that satisfying moment when you find that they've opened and released their exquisite salty brine.

Bivalves such as mussels, oysters, or clams are often approached with hesitation, but are surprisingly so quick and easy to prepare.

This spicy broth takes on all the flavors of Thailand as it infuses with lemongrass, ginger, galangal, and thai chili. In the time it takes for the spices to release their flavors, you can steam and prepare the clams and have an elegant and extremely flavorful meal prepared in about 20 minutes.

I must admit that kohlrabi is a vegetable that, until my farmhouse delivery last week, I have never come across before. Following a bit of research, I learned that the name comes from the German kohl, meaning cabbage, and rabi, meaning turnip. It is commonly eaten in German speaking countries and popular in South Indian cooking.

I decided to take inspiration from Thailand's green papaya salad and try out this new vegetable in its raw form with a bit of thai flavors. Instead of the traditional peanut garnish, I dressed it with a tahini vinaigrette which provided the same nutty flavor.

The refreshingly cold salad is a perfect accompaniment to the spicy coconut broth and clams.

If not for the lack of humidity, spontaneous monsoons, and pristine beaches, you'll swear you're in Thailand while eating these dishes. ;)

(Serves 2)


for the broth/clams-

2 cups coconut milk
2 stalks of lemongrass
fresh ginger, about 1 tbs
fresh galangal, about 1 tbs
1-2 thai chilis, depending on preferred spice level
2 cloves of garlic
cilantro + stems
1 tbs of fish sauce
2 limes
1.5 lbs little neck clams

for the salad-

3 medium kohlrabi roots (if you can't find kohlrabi, turnips or radish would work just as well)
2 carrots
2 scallions, sliced
1 clove of garlic, grated
freshly grated ginger, about 1 tsp
1/2 tbs of tahini (or peanut butter)
1 tsp of sesame oil
2 tbs of fish sauce
1 tsp agave nectar
zest  and juice from 2 limes

The first step in preparing any bivalves is ensuring that they are still alive. This is determined by checking to make sure they are all closed. If you spot one that is slightly opened, lightly tap it on the counter a couple of times. If it closes, it is okay, but if it does not, discard it. After removing any open or cracked clams, it's time to clean them, inside and out. Give them each a scrub under the faucet and add them to a large bowl.

In order to remove any sand that the clams may have swallowed during their time on the ocean floor, you must allow the clams to soak in a mixture of cold salt water for at least 20 minutes to an hour prior to cooking. This creates an environment that they are used to which provokes them to open and spit out any sand or grit.

While the clams are soaking, prep the ingredients for the broth. As the ingredients won't be consumed but just used for infusing, don't worry about cutting them perfectly. You are just trying to release as much flavor as possible.

Peel the garlic cloves and slightly crush with the side of a knife.

Slice about 4 quarter sized pieces each of ginger and galangal.

Lemongrass has a tough, woodsy exterior, which holds all of its flavor inside. Crush it with the back of the knife to bruise it and release its flavor. At this point, you should be able to smell the lemongrass.

Slice the chilis (remove and throw away seeds if you would like less spice). Don't forget to wash your hands after this step!

Add all of the prepped ingredients as well as cilantro stems to the coconut milk and bring to a very low simmer. Allow to simmer and infuse for 15-20 minutes.

While the coconut milk is infusing, remove the clams from the water one at a time and add to a separate bowl. (This prevents any sand from being poured back onto the clams and leaves it settled at the bottom).

Add 1/4 cup of water to a pan, bring to a light simmer, and quickly but carefully add in the clams. Cover with a lid and allow to steam for 4-5 minutes, or until they have opened completely. Using tongs, remove the clams one at a time rather than pouring them over a strainer to prevent stirring up any grit that may not have been removed during the soak. Reserve the clam juice. 

Slowly pour 1/2 of the reserved clam juice into the coconut milk making sure not to pour in the last bit with any sand or grit. Add in fish sauce.

Strain the coconut broth into a bowl and add more salt if needed, though both the clam juice and fish sauce should add sufficient saltiness. Add the clams to a bowl and pour over the broth. Garnish with fresh cilantro and freshly squeezed lime juice.

For the salad-

Using a mandolin or cutting by hand, slice the carrots and kohlrabi into a julienne, or thin strips.

Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour over the vegetables. Add in 3/4 of the scallions and stir to combine. Garnish with the remaning scallions.

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