A Taste of the Beach

If you have only enjoyed clams dipped in melted butter in a shack near the Connecticut shore, or perhaps steamed open in white wine with garlic in Little Italy, you are going to be pleasantly surprised by how deliciously colorful and different they are in this Mexican-inspired preparation. Digging into a briny bowl of these spicy bivalves, their broth mopped up with good bread, the whole business washed down with plenty of cold beer, is the best kind of festive, laid-back outdoor eating I know!

Baja Beach Clams Steamed in Beer

(Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course)


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small, fresh jalapeno chile, stemmed, and seeded if desired, and sliced into thin rounds
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 2 cups light lager beer, such as Corona
  • 24 small hard-shelled clams (littlenecks), well scrubbed and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • Wedges of lime, as optional accompaniment.

In a large, heavy pot over low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the jalapeno and garlic, cover and cook, stirring once or twice, for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and green onion, raise the heat slightly and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the beer and clams. Cover the pan and raise the heat. Cook the clams, stirring them occasionally, and transfer them with a slotted spoon as they open to shallow serving bowls. (The time will vary, for only a few minutes to as long as 20.) Discard any clams that have not opened after 20 minutes. Pour the broth through a fine-mesh strainer set over a deep bowl or measuring cup. Spoon the tomato mixture from the strainer over the clams, dividing it equally. Let the broth settle briefly, then spoon it over the clams, leaving the sandy residue behind.

Sprinkle the cilantro over the clams and serve immediately, accompanied by lime wedges for squeezing if desired.