Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hawai'i Cuisine: Steamed Clams with Ginger Pesto Butter

Technically, Steamed Clams with Ginger Pesto Butter (pg 7) is supposed to be an appetizer. I decided to play with it and turn it into a full meal. That was a mistake. Don't get me wrong, this was still tasty. I'm certain it would be better without my meddling, though.

The original recipe has you make a "pesto" out of a load of ginger, a load of garlic, cilantro, green onion, butter and olive oil. This packs some kick. A spoonful will clear your sinuses right out. (Heeeere, Charlie, Charlie, Charlie. I've got something for you.)

As for the clams, I'm not totally clear on what the finished product is supposed to be. The directions say:
"Place clams, onions, garlic, and chicken stock in a small pot. Steam for 1 minute."Just so I'm clear, clams in 3 cups of stock would be boiled, not steamed, right? Add shiitake mushrooms, mustard cabbage (I used napa, which I'm sure is nothing like whatever mustard cabbage is), onion, and green onion to the broth and cook for 3 more minutes. Then, "Divide clams into 4 serving bowls. Dollop each serving with 1 tablespoon of Ginger Pesto Butter." I took that to mean that all that vegetable matter was just a broth-flavoring agent and is left behind in the pot. Yes? No?

That seemed like a waste of a decent pile of produce to me. On the other hand, if you are supposed to eat the veg, there has to be a better way than to boil it.

My not-so-brilliant solution was to boil the clams, some onion and garlic in the stock for the full amount of time, without adding the veg. I stir-fried the cabbage, onions, and mushrooms in oil and a generous spoonful of the pesto butter. Once everything had cooked down, I threw some cooked pasta in and topped with the clams, some broth, and another small dollop of pesto.

In my head, that should have created a decent meal. In reality, all that bulk diluted the pesto too much. It lost its kick. My bad.

Conclusion: Liked it as (I think) it was supposed to be. Not so great with my tweaks.

This book suffers from a case of unclear instructions. Chef Choy would benefit from an editor and a test group to give his recipes a dry run before they're published.


  1. Well, now you know :) Usually I'm in full support of tweaking though so stay at it

  2. I support the tweaks! You'll never know unless you try.