Monday, July 5, 2010

4th of July Clambake

We decided to do a traditional New England Clambake - what says summer to most people more than a huge mound of fresh steamed shellfish, corn and potatoes pulled fresh from a seaweed lined fire-pit on the beach?

Of course, with our backyard being about an hour's drive from the beach and not wanting to dig a hole into the packed clay under our suburban sod, we decided to improvise a bit.

John brought over his turkey fryer burner, a propane tank and a bunch of clams.

We picked up 3 big bags of dried seaweed from H-mart and the seafood and just like that - we had a quick and easy turkey burner New England Clambake.  No digging, no sand grit seasoned seafood and it was steps away from our cool air-conditioned house.   For us, it's one of those idyllic scenarios without all the travel, digging and fuss.

We did a clambake for 10 people and 4 kids with the following:


    * 10 1¼ to 1½ pound lobsters
    * 60 littleneck clams
    * 60 Prince Edward Island mussels
    * 60 steamers, i.e. soft-shelled clams
    * 5 pounds of large or extra large shrimp
    * 15 ears of corn, husks on
    * 35-40 baby yukon potatoes
    * 4 large onions, skin on, quartered
    * 4 lemons, halved
    * 5-10 eggs

    * water
    * kosher salt

Special Equipment:

    * Turkey Fryer Burner & Propane Tank
    * 1 large stockpot and 2 large steaming pots
    * Long grilling tongs
    * 3 bags of dried seaweed, reconstituted

  1. Place water into bottom stockpot about 1/3 full.
  2. Pour enough salt (2 tablespoons per quart) into the water so that it approximates seawater
  3. Add one packaged of reconstituted seaweed and then place all the corn ears up along the inside perimeter of the pot.  Place all the potatoes into the center and then put the whole eggs, 2 of the onions and lemons on top of that.
  4. Place the pot onto the turkey fryer burner on high and then top with the first steamer pot.
  5. Place 5 lobsters, and half of all the shellfish on top with a couple of the lemons and onions.
  6. Place the second steamer pot on top of that and repeat then cover with a thick layer of seaweed.
  7. Put on the top tightly and if necessary, wrap the layers with heavy duty foil to keep the steam from escaping.
  8. Steam for about 45 minutes to an hour or more until the shellfish is cooked through and all the clams and mussels are open.

We then covered a folding table outside with a plastic lined paper table cloth which we then covered decoratively with the third bunch of reconstituted seaweed.

Take the corn, potatoes and eggs and place on the seaweed then dump all of the shellfish on top of that - provide claw crackers, drawn butter and watch your guests enjoy!!

Ed did cut the lobsters in half (separating body/head from tail) and then the tails in half for ease of eating and it seemed to work very well for all involved.

We provided appetizers, desserts and for drinks: Sangria, Mojitos, Margaritas Stawberry Daiquiris, fresh squeezed lemonade (recipe below) and most importantly, Gabriel (Alyse and Edison's son) gave it his approval.

Fresh Lemonade Recipe


    * 1 cup sugar (can reduce to 3/4 cup)
    * 1 cup water (for the simple syrup)
    * 1 cup lemon juice (about 7-8 lemons)
    * 2 lemons, sliced
    * 3 to 4 cups cold water (to dilute)


  1. Make simple syrup by heating the sugar and water in a small saucepan until the sugar is dissolved completely.
  2. While the sugar is dissolving, use a juicer to extract the juice from 7-8 lemons, enough for one cup of juice.
  3. Add the juice, sliced lemons and the sugar water to a pitcher.
  4. Add 3 to 4 cups of cold water, more or less to the desired strength.
  5. If the lemonade is a little sweet for your taste, add a little more straight lemon juice to it.

Serve with ice, more sliced lemons, if desired.

Serves 6.

The sangria, mojitos and lemonade we made from scratch but the rest we bought ready-made with the liquor already in them - quick and easy!  The sangria recipe is available via this blog:

A special thank you to Edison and Alyse for bringing the delicious Muchines de Yuca (at least I think they were made from yuca, I will have to ask...) which are very, very tasty cassava balls with a crunchy outside protecting a soft, savory cheese filling. Truly amazing - delicious!!!

One other quick recipe of note that John and Edison really liked was the:

Fried Peppers with Sea Salt and Lemon, a la Bordeaux


1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 lb of fresh hot and sweet long peppers,* left whole with stems and seeds intact, or other green chiles (such as the Japanese Shishito or Spanish PadrĂ³n)
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt plus additional for serving
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Juice of one lemon


  1.  Heat heavy large skillet over high heat.
  2. Add vegetable oil and swirl skillet to coat.
  3. Heat until oil is very hot and begins to shimmer, about 1 minute.
  4. Have a cover ready for the pan because the fresh chilies will pop.
  5. Add whole chiles and 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt; stir constantly until chiles are blistered over half their surface, occasionally shaking skillet, about 2-4 minutes.
  6. Add thinly sliced garlic and continue to stir constantly until chiles are blistered all over, about 2-4 minutes longer (some chiles will be soft and some will be slightly firm, depending on size).
  7. Transfer chiles to paper towels to drain briefly, then place chiles in medium serving bowl. Squeeze over juice of one lemon sprinkle generously with additional coarse sea salt and toss to coat.

Serve immediately or at room temperature.

All in all, a perfect Fourth of July Celebration with great family and friends.

For the adventurous - and that may be us next year - you can make a New England Clambake in a Barrel:

This could easily become a tradition!!

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