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What to Serve with Steamed Clams?

Photo collage of different steamed clams.

The cheap, tasty clam makes a terrific snack or the entree for a delicious meal. A popular choice to serve at summer cookouts, you can easily steam these tasty treats. The steamed clam also proves highly nutritious.

The multitude of health benefits of these bivalves includes providing Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, a lean source of protein, cancer-preventing characteristics, and the promotion of sexual health. The versatile clam compliments many dishes and pairs well with wine. Read on to learn the many dishes with which you can serve steamed clams.

Related: Clams vs. Oysters | Types of Clams | How to Clean Clams | How to Store Clams 

Ideas for Steaming Your Clams

Sure, you can prepare clams in just a little butter and water to make the most out of the brine, but you can add something here and there to make it taste even more fabulous. Try slicing a clove of garlic and sauteing it, then add it to the water. You can replace the water in which you brine the clams with beer, sake, or wine.

Steaming in this does not make them alcoholic. When you cook with alcohol, the heat cooks out the alcohol, turning the liquor into nothing more than flavoring, so you’re still safe to serve this to children. Towards the end of the steaming time, add your favorite herbs.

What to Serve with Your Steamed Clams?

This is a bowl of steamed clams with a side of melted butter and bread.

Your steamed clams want some company on your plate. Toss them with your choice of pasta. Try a simple spaghetti noodle, linguini, mostaccioli, or penne.

The juices from steaming them make a delicious sauce. Pair this with a couple of pieces of toasted garlic bread and melted butter for a delicious seafood meal. Also, try these ingredients as mix-ins as you toss it all together:

  • Chorizo
  • Foie gras
  • Salami
  • Sausage

You say you want to go beyond clams and pasta? Linguine with clam sauce just seems too basic to you. Oh, alright.

You have many alternatives because the humble, but mighty clam goes so well with many types of food. It is a common ingredient in Korean, Thai, Italian, American, and many other ethnic foods. Consider pairing your steamed clams with the following dishes for a quick meal:

  • kimchi soup with tofu
  • fish broth with corn
  • spicy tomato soup and garlic mayonnaise
  • farfalle pasta topped with basil pesto and corn
  • shuck them and drop them into a New England clam chowder
  • serve on the side with spring pea fish chowder and crusty bread
  • top a green salad of spinach and chard with clams

When you have more free time, you can cook something a little more fancy with these wonderful seafood delights. Here are a few ideas for your steamed clams, many of which use an outdoor grill.

This is a close look at a seafood paella with lemon on a wooden table.
  • Grilled Seafood Paella: You will also need chicken, chorizo, lobster, and shrimp for this dish. You must actively monitor the pan to ensure even heating.
  • Lemon Fregola with Herbs and Cockles: Pair the Sardinian pasta, fregola, with cockles. The herbs bring out the flavor of the clams. The lemon compliments the clams, too, and pairs well with any seafood.
  • Chile-Lime Clams: Steam the clams in a skillet on the grill to capture their brine and stir in the tomatoes toward the end. Pair this with grilled bread for a delicious summer meal.
This is a close look at a grilled mussels toast.
  • Grilled Clam Toasts: Steam your clams while you grill a little lemon, green olives, and melt Parmesan onto toast points. Top the toast with the clams or serve them on the side.
  • Chickpeas and Green Garlic: Seattle chef Renee Erickson developed this dish that is easy to make.
  • Stout-Steamed Shellfish: If you need to cook for a small army, you can easily double this recipe. Combine it with charred onions and toasted baguettes for a hearty seafood meal.
  • Fettuccine ai Frutti di Mare: Hopefully, you really aren’t tired of pasta because this fettuccine dish perfectly complements clams. It also works great as a holiday meal because you can make the sauce a day ahead of the meal.
This is a Japanese miso soup with clams in it.
  • Clams in White Bean Sauce: Pair clams with legumes for a tasty and filling meal. This uses cannellini beans, leeks, and littleneck clams.
This is a close look at the clam coconut curry with spices.
  • Coconut-Clam Stock: You can serve this in plain coconut stock or add a curry paste to it to create a spicy Thai dish. Red or green curry paste will transform this into a warming meal for winter. Add steamed mussels to the soup with your steamed littleneck clams.
This is a plate of Crispy Gnocchi with clams.
  • Crispy Gnocchi: It might surprise you to learn that the potato-stuffed pasta goes well with clams, but it does. Let the gnocchi brown on one side.
  • Hot Italian Sausage and Handmade Pasta: You really need to set aside a day for this but making your own pasta can prove a fulfilling experience. You roll and shape it as you desire, and you can add your own spices to the dough. You can make the dough ahead of time, then refrigerate it, so it is handy when you want to cook.
  • This is a close look at a sliced Garlic and Olive Loaf.
  • Garlic and Olive Loaf: Just slice and toast the loaf of bread. Serve it with your steamed clams and a glass of wine.
  • Anything Goes Donabe: Cut chicken, vegetables, and the other seafood ingredients into uniform pieces then poach them in the dashi-based broth. Serve over a bed of glass noodles.
  • Red Snapper in Coconut-Clam Broth: Crusted with fennel seeds, the red snapper provides a crunchy pairing to chewy steamed clams.
This is a close look at a bowl of Clam and Cod Chowder.
  • Clam and Cod Chowder: Use clam juice to make this delicious hot meal on a weeknight. If you have time on the weekend, you can also make this stock from scratch. Be careful to not add salt to the chowder since clams provide copious amounts of natural salt.
This is a close look at a pot of Korean clam stew with other seafood.
  • Tofu Sundubu: This succulent Korean stew uses tofu and red chile stock, so prepare for some spice to temper the salty clams you drop into the stew.
This is a plate of liguine pasta with clams.
  • Linguine and Clams: Toast your almonds and use them to top the pasta alongside the clams.
This is a bowl serving of seafood clam paella with toppings.
  • Chorizo and Clam Paella: Smoky saffron flavors this seafood and sausage delicacy.
This is a close look at a seafood pizza with clams.
  • Bacon and Clam Pizza: You can’t order this one for takeout, but you can make it at home. Top it with blanched garlic and olive oil. You probably want to skip stuffing the crust with cheese on this one.
This is a bowl of roasted young potatoes and spring onion.
  • New Potatoes and Spring Onions: Clams and potatoes complement one another. If you cannot find new potatoes, choose a small potato, also known as a baby potato.
This is a closed look at a Japanese lunch set that has a bowl of clam miso soup.
  • Miso Clam Chowder: This fusion dish merges New England clam chowder with the light Japanese soup that commonly accompanies sushi. Add a tray of sushi for a filling meal.
  • Sake-Steamed Clams over Soba Noodles: Also, a Japan-inspired dish, cook your soba noodles as you would an Italian pasta – al dente.
This is a close look at linguini with clams.
  • Linguine with Clams and Fennel: Crunchy fennel adds complexity to the clams and linguine. Don’t be afraid to play with the recipe and add your favorite spices to this one along with a bit of shaved garlic.
This is a close look at Bacon and Chard Pizza.
  • Bacon and Chard Pizza: The assertive taste of chard isn’t just for salads. Top your pizza with it and a bit of bacon and clams. Try smoky bacon for a fun contrast.
This is a bowl of healthy Spaghetti alle Vongole.
  • Spaghetti alle Vongole: Use the clam brine as a broth. Using fresh clams make the dish sing with flavor.
This is a close look at a plate of Paccheri and Clams with sauce.
  • Paccheri and Clams: The shape of Paccheri holds sauce better than most pasta, so it better absorbs the salty clam flavors.

What Wine Should You Serve with Clams?

Clams work best with dry white wine. You can choose from Pinot Grigio, Sancerre, or Sauvignon Blanc. If you prepare a dish that has other meats in it, double-check your wine choice.

You don’t want your wine to conflict with the other meats. For example, chorizo goes with red wine, such as Shiraz and Paso Robles. You can find non-alcoholic options for wine at most local wineries.

Pinot and Shiraz varieties tend to be the most common among the non-alcoholic varieties as these grapes are common.

Bon Appetit

Clams make a delicious meal, whether you need to use canned clam juice and packaged clams, or you have the time to steam some of these beauties in their shells and craft a from-scratch broth. Try these fabulous pairings for a summer seafood meal perfect for any picnic or party.