Grilled Clams with Spicy Miso Lime Butter
Grilling clams has an element of magic to it if you ask me. First off, its absurdly easy to do, involving nothing more than tossing fresh clams onto a hot grill. Even better, there’s no guessing when the clams are done. The shells pop open when they’re ready. From there, it’s a matter of deciding how to dress them up. The classic, of course, is simply melted butter. My preference, though, is to take it a step further and do up a plate of grilled clams with spicy miso lime butter. The butter is an umami flavor bomb that plays beautifully off of the grilled clams and their briny cooking juices. Be sure to serve with crusty bread, since you’ll want to swipe up every last drop that’s left in the bowl.
What Type of Clams to Use
Honestly, you can grill any variety of clam you like. That said, I prefer a medium-sized clam for this recipe, such as little neck or manila. If clams are too tiny, there’s not a whole lot of room to capture the tasty miso butter. And big clams tend to be on the tougher side, better for chopping up and tossing into chowder, for example.
How to Prepare the Clams
Clams can be intimidating if you’ve never cooked with them before. Here are a few tips on cleaning and prep:
- I usually buy clams the same day I plan to cook them. They’re alive and should stay that way until cooking time.
- Take a gander at your clams to make sure the shells are closed. If a shell is open, tap it on the counter. It should close right up. If not, throw it out, along with any cracked or broken clams.
- Most clams you buy in a seafood shop or mainstream market are likely already cleaned. At the very least, you’ll want to rinse them before cooking. If you’re not sure the clams have been properly cleaned, immerse them in a bowl of cold, salted water and cover with a dishtowel for about 30 minutes. This will help purge the sand from inside the shells.
- Store clams in the fridge until ready to cook.
When to Serve Grilled Clams with Spicy Miso Lime Butter
To me this dish screams of warm weather cooking. It’s the type of thing to enjoy during the summer months along with an icy cold bottle of white wine. Here are a few suggestions:
- Serve it as an appetizer for a gathering with friends. Figure it will serve about four as an hors d’oeuvre. You can also easily double or triple the recipe for a larger crowd.
- Enjoy as a light main dish supper for two. Serve it with a simple salad and warm baguette.
- If you don’t have a grill or don’t feel like firing yours up, you can cook the clams in a 450 degree oven and do the spicy miso butter in a small skillet on the stovetop. Easy!
If you like Grilled Clams with Spicy Miso Lime Butter, you might like:
Clams with Chorizo and Tomatoes, a recipe I developed for Simple Recipes
Grilled Clams with Spicy Miso Lime Butter
Enjoying fresh clams doesn't get much easier than doing them on the grill with a flavorful butter to drizzle over the top. The combination of miso, lime juice, and a kick of sriracha plays deliciously off the briny clams. The recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh clams in the shell, cleaned
- 4 tablespoons salted butter
- 1 tablespoon white or mellow miso paste
- Juice of 1 lime
- 2 teaspoons sriracha (more if you want it extra spicy)
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 1 lime cut into small wedges
- 1 crusty warm baguette
Heat grill on medium. Put clams right on the grill grates and close the lid.
After several minutes, put the butter in a small, heat-proof skillet and set the skillet it on the grill. Close the lid.
Keep an eye on butter. As soon as it melts, add the miso paste, sriracha, and lime juice and use a small whisk to blend it into the butter. Move to a cooler part of the grill or to a spot nearby to grill to keep the butter warm.
Once the clams open (about 8 minutes total, give or take), use tongs to carefully transfer them to a shallow bowl/platter, being careful not to spill the precious clam juices. Drizzle the miso lime butter over the clams (aiming for the inside of the shells) and scatter on the cilantro and lime wedges. Serve with baguette for swiping up the tasty butter