Food is indeed a reflection of a region’s unique geography, culture and lifestyle. The cuisine of Goa is the very definition of this wonderful culinary tradition. Famous for its distinctive dishes, Goan food is a delicious combination of exotic Indian spices and traditional Portuguese cooking styles. It is old world fusion cuisine at its finest.
Seafood is an important part of the Indian non-vegetarian diet, especially along the coastal regions. The Konkan region of India, located along the southwestern coast, is teeming with an abundance of fresh fish and shellfish. Goa is a serene and tranquil oasis located on the southwest coast of India in the Konkan region. Its cuisine is characterized by the abundance of fresh seafood and succulent coconuts.
My family ancestry originates from Goa, as does my love for seafood. This particular dish has always been a family favorite. Fresh clams are always tender, succulent and delicious but feel free to make this recipe using any shellfish such as mussels, cockles, crabs, scallops or even shrimp. If you haven’t cooked with clams before it can be a little intimidating. But I can assure you, it‘s very easy and completely worth it.
SPICY GOAN CLAMS
3 dozen hard-shelled clams
3 large shallots, finely diced
1” piece of ginger, peeled and finely minced
3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced
3-4 small green Thai chilies, halved lengthwise (to taste)
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 tbsp ground coriander powder
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
6-8 fresh curry leaves
½ can coconut milk (14 ounce can)
2-3 tbsp oil, vegetable or canola
salt & pepper, to taste
juice of ½ lime
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
Discard any open, cracked, chipped or damaged clams. I always soak the clams for about 15-20 minutes in a large bowl filled with cool water & about 2 tbsp of all-purpose flour. This will allow enough time for the clam to release any salt water or sandy grit from its shell. Pull the clams out and thoroughly wash and scrub each one using a small brush. The clams are now ready to be cooked, but set them aside in the refrigerator until needed.
In a large deep skillet or wok on medium high heat, add the oil. When hot, add the shallots along with the ginger, garlic and green chilies. Stir fry for a few minutes and continue to stir. Let the mixture cook until it becomes golden brown in color. This may take up to 6-7 minutes. Then add the spices (turmeric, ground coriander powder, salt and pepper). Stir and let cook for a minute or two and add the clams. Stir to coat the clams in all of the spices and then add the curry leaves and crushed red pepper flakes. Next, add the tomatoes and stir well to combine all of the ingredients. After 2-3 minutes, add the coconut milk. Reduce the heat to low, cover with tight fitting lid and let steam for 6-8 minutes. Transfer the clams and their sauce to a serving bowl. Discard any closed clams. Lastly, stir in the lime juice and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. Serve immediately and enjoy!