Why It Works
- Poaching the razor clams off the heat ensures that you don’t overcook the delicate meat.
- If you're using fresh clams, collecting their natural juices will ensure that as much of their flavor goes into the soup as possible; bottled clam juice makes up the difference.
Pacific razor clams and buttery leeks sub in for the more commonly used Manila clams and onions in this classic chowder with a twist. Fresh thyme, dry vermouth, and a restrained hand with cream keep the chowder light and fresh, with just enough richness for a luxurious texture. For more recipes featuring sensational seafood beyond razor clams, check out my book Good Fish: 100 Sustainable Seafood Recipes From the Pacific Coast.
© 2018 by Becky Selengut. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Good Fish: 100 Sustainable Seafood Recipes From the Pacific Coast by permission of Sasquatch Books.
- 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter
- 4 slices bacon (about 4 ounces), cut into small dice
- 1 large leek (about 3/4 pound), dark-green parts cut off and saved for stock, leek halved lengthwise, cleaned, and cut into small dice
- 2 celery ribs (4 ounces), cut into small dice, with 1/4 cup (7g) picked tender leaves reserved for garnish
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 pound (450g) Yukon Gold potatoes, unpeeled, cut into medium dice
- 1/4 cup (60ml) dry white vermouth
- One (8-ounce) bottle clam juice (see note)
- 1 1/2 cups (360ml) heavy cream
- 3/4 pound (340g) cleaned razor clam meat, cut into small dice
- 2 teaspoons (10ml) fish sauce (such as Red Boat brand), optional
- Kosher salt
- Tabasco sauce or other hot sauce of your choice, for serving
- Buttery crackers (such as Ritz), broken up, for garnish
In a Dutch oven, combine butter and bacon and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon begins to brown and crisp, 7 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer half the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate; reserve for garnish.
Add the leek to the remaining bacon in the Dutch oven and cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the diced celery, bay leaves, thyme, and cayenne and cook for 1 minute. Add the potatoes and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook the potatoes for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the vermouth and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the clam juice and just enough water to cover the potatoes (about 8 ounces/240ml). Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, then cook until the potatoes are tender. Add the cream, return to a simmer, then simmer for 10 minutes. Bring the chowder to a boil, turn off the heat, add the razor clam meat, cover the pot, and let stand for 1 minute; this will be enough to gently poach the clam meat without letting it become rubbery. Add fish sauce, if using. Season with salt.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with reserved bacon and celery leaves. Serve, allowing diners to add hot sauce and crumbled crackers to their bowls as desired.
If you’re shucking fresh razor clams for this recipe, you can collect and strain any liquid from that process and substitute it for part of the bottled clam juice.