Recipes Main Courses Seafood Clams Steamed in Ale

Clams Steamed in Ale

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Look for an ale that has a sweet malt flavor and is not too bitter. The best choice for this dish is a wheat-based Bavarian-style hefeweizen or a white ale in the Belgian tradition. A highly hopped ale, such as a West Coast style or an India pale ale, may yield a broth that is overly bitter.


  • 1 cup wheat, white or brown ale, at room temperature (see note above)
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 4 dozen littleneck, Manila or other small clams, scrubbed
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • Baguette or other crusty white bread for serving


Steam the clams
In a large saucepan, Dutch oven or stockpot, combine the ale and shallot. Add the clams, discarding any that do not close to the touch. Cover, bring to a boil over high heat and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover and, using a slotted spoon, transfer any fully opened clams to bowls. Re-cover the pan and continue to cook until the remaining clams open. Transfer the clams to the bowls, discarding any that have failed to open. The total cooking time will be 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the clams.

Finish the broth
Add the butter to the broth and stir until melted and combined. Ladle some broth into each bowl. Serve with bread for dipping in the broth. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Seafood, by Jay Harlow (Oxmoor House, 2007).