MY MOTHER’S STEAMED CLAMS
One of my childhood favorites.
Growing up I, was surrounded by rice, corn, peanuts, vegetables, sugar cane fields, coconut trees, and tropical fruits. The best environment for a child to grow up in. My grandparents farm was mainly my playground growing up. During the last weekend of the month, I would always get excited because my mother would take us to visit my grandparents farm. She either took me or my sister with her. On the way to the farm, my mother and I would stop by the market to buy some fish and pastries. It became a family tradition.
Our cousins always made us feel welcome when we visited. They would run out from their homes to meet us. They made us feel like celebrities. They acted like they haven’t seen us in ages. My grandparents would then catch a free-range chicken for lunch. Everyone would gather around the table and enjoy the Tinolang Manok (Chicken soup with green papaya, moringa leaves, and ginger, which I will be sharing the recipe with you in the future) as well as my Grandpa’s grilled fish soup. Sometimes, I would ask my mother if I could stay behind. Reminiscing, I can’t help but miss my grandparents.
Below are pictures I took when I last visited my grandparents farm four years ago (2010).
When I went back to visit four years ago, I could’t stay long. I was there to primarily attend a high school reunion. However, I did get a chance to visit my old neighborhood. I wasn’t able to take as many photos as I would have liked. I regret not being able to explore my grandparents farm to see how much it changed. I wish you could have seen how it looked 40 years ago when the river flowed endlessly from the mountain and how it deposited mini clams, and edible snails. My cousins and I would go to the river for a swim and we would pick sugar cane on the way back then collect clams, snails, and vegetables to take back home. We would gather them using our skirt as a basket. It was a lot of fun. My mother would then cooked the clams and snails we brought back.
In the summer time, my mother would drop us off to the farm for a short vacation. We would stay there for about a week or two or even a month at times. We would play hide-and-seek at night during the full moon. Sometimes we would help out harvesting coconuts or feeding carabaos or water buffalos. The fun part was when it was time to harvest the rice crop. They would let us take whatever was left in the field. We would separate the rice from the stalk by using a bilao (pronounced bee-lah-o). We would grab a handful of rice crop and placed them in the bilao then shook and tossed them. We would place the rice in a sack and would take it to town and sell it. That was how we earned extra cash back then. What a fun time!
I recall having to walk for miles just to get to the nearest town to catch a ride to the market. Sometimes, we would catch a ride with a farmer or a passerby with a cart in tow being pulled by a water buffalo. However, much has changed since the area has become much more developed. It’s not as pretty as before. The rice production these days is not as abundant back then because of irrigation issue. The corn crop is more common now than before because it doesn’t require as much water as to growing rice crop. How I miss the good old days! *Sigh*
Anyway, let’s start making my mother’s clam recipe.
- 5.17 lbs. Manila clams
- 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped onions
- whole thumb size ginger, peeled, cut in half and slightly pounded with mallet
- 15 tricolor cherry tomatoes or any color of your choice, halves
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley* or 4 stalks of green onions, cut about half inch
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon (powdered form)
- 2 cups of water
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Immediately immerse the clams in cold (not warm) water for about 5 hours to let them open up and expel whatever stuff they have in their shells the minute you come home from the market. Then use a sponge or a brush to clean the shell. Then rinse them. They are ready to be cooked. I did this step and there was no sand in any of the clams.
- Saute the garlic, onions, and ginger with 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a deep saute pan over medium-high heat until translucent.
- Then add the tomatoes and chicken bouillon and the green onions ( *I used parsley because I didn’t have any green onions). Stir again before adding the clams and water. Add the clams and water. Cover and bring the water to a boil about 7 to 10 minutes or until the clams start opening up depending on the heat of your stove. Don’t forget to lightly season with black pepper and salt. Then turned off the heat.
- Garnish with more green onions or parsley. Serve immediately and slurp the flavorful sauce and eat the clams right from the shell.
My siblings and I would sometimes eat these clams with a piece of bread and dip it on the sauce. Don’t ask, just do it. You will find out why. 🙂 Mr. M loved it and asked for more while little J & A were very disappointed they couldn’t have any (they’re allergic to seafood). No worries, they had their favorite food as well.
Below are random pictures I took while vacationing in the Philippines when we went to the market to buy seafood. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of the squash or Kabucha pumpkins. They were humungous! 🙂
And these photos when we went to the beach for a swim.
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