Eventide’s Efficiency Apartment Clambake
You’ll have to make peace with the fact that some of the princely elements of the seaside clambake will be missing here, but other things remain constant. Foremost is the fun of it all. You’re going to surprise your dinner guests with this simple offering, and the hands-on, family style nature of it will by definition pull people closer together. That’s why we do it every summer on the beach and why we felt compelled to serve this version of it at Eventide.
In terms of execution, the formula is also basically the same: Combine the freshest, best ingredients you can find with steam, sweat the details a bit, and everything will work out stupendously.
The vessel you choose to cook in is also important in this format. We suggest using a 12-inch bamboo steamer basket with a lid, set over a wok with a small amount of water in it to create steam. Woks are useful for this because their curved sides allow a steamer to sit inside, but not touch the water in the bottom of the pan. You can use a straight-sided pot, too, but you need to make sure it is of the same diameter as the bamboo steamer so the steamer sits snuggly atop the pot. If you have a pot with a perforated steamer insert, you can just build the clambake right in the insert.
Aim for the perfect experience, not the perfect cookery. It’s virtually impossible to achieve evenly cooked perfection with so many different things firing at once. Our process is calibrated to deliver delicious results, but it’s inevitable that one thing or another will get a little overdone. Try to keep that one thing or another from being the lobster and don’t sweat the rest.
If you do go the steamer basket route, each basket serves two people comfortably. If you need to serve four or six people, you can just stack multiple baskets on top of each other during steaming. Once you get to four baskets and beyond, it’s best to set up multiple woks and split up the load.
Serves 2 (scale up as needed)
- 1 (1- to 1 1/4-pound) live lobster, or 2 fresh or thawed frozen (uncooked) lobster tails
- 1/2 pound live mussels
- 1/2 pound live steamer clams
- 1 ear of corn, shucked and cut in half
- 2 hard-boiled eggs (but not too hard)
- 10 Confit Potatoes (recipe follows) made with baby new potatoes or fingerlings
- 1 (2 x 2-inch) piece salt pork, sliced into 1/2-inch planks
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted, for serving
- 1/2 cup Nori Vinaigrette (recipe follows) for serving (optional)
If you get a live lobster, place it on a clean work surface and dispatch it humanely by thrusting a sharp knife between its eyes. Pull the claws and tail off the lobster. Wash the mussels and clams.
If you have it, lay the rockweed in the bottom of your steamer basket to create a bed for the shellfish. Put your lobster claws and tails atop the rockweed (save the bodies for lobster stew), in the middle, and arrange the mussels, clams, corn, egg, potatoes, and salt pork tightly around the lobster, keeping like ingredients together (mussels arrayed with mussels, clams arrayed with clams—you get the picture). Make it look nice so when you open the lid for your guest, it has that “wow” factor. Cover the basket with its top. (If you are stacking multiple baskets, you only need to cover the top basket.)
When you’re ready, fill your wok with 3 inches of water and a big pinch of salt (it should taste like seawater). Bring it to a boil over high heat and carefully place the steamer basket in the wok, so it sits sturdily above the water. Set a timer for 12 minutes. In the meantime, get your melted butter and any other sides and condiments set out on the table.
When the timer goes off, take the lid off the steamer basket and check the ingredients. If the lobster is bright red and all the mussel and clam shells have opened up, carefully remove the basket from the heat and set it on a cutting board or a large plate or platter, bring it to the table, and dig in.
Get light, crisp beers like a pilsner (e.g. Bunker Brewing Company’s Machine Czech-Style Pilz) or a wheat (e.g. Allagash White). For wine, we like fresh, young whites like a Grüner Veltliner or briny, lip-smacking Picpoul. Bubbles, like a sparkling rosé, are outstanding accompaniments.
Makes about 5 pounds
- 5 pounds baby new potatoes or fingerlings, or 4 large russet potatoes
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 4 quarts canola oil
Rinse and scrub the potatoes vigorously under cold running water in a colander. Drain the potatoes. If using baby new potatoes or fingerlings, leave them whole. If using russet potatoes, use an apple corer to punch width-wise cylinders out of the potatoes. Toss the potatoes with the salt and let sit for 1 hour.
In a pot, combine the potatoes and the oil. Bring the oil up to 200 degrees F over medium-high heat and cook for about an hour, until the potatoes yield no resistance to a cake tester or skewer. Remove from the heat and let the potatoes and oil cool to room temperature before using.
The potatoes can be packed in an airtight container and covered in their cooking oil to store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Extra oil can be used for subsequent batches of confit potatoes, vinaigrettes, frying, or any other oil needs.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
- 10 sheets nori
- 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/4 cup light soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons mirin
Toast the nori sheets by holding them with tongs one at a time, and waving them over the flame of your gas stove, until they stiffen up, become lighter in color, and start to become aromatic, about 1 minute. (Or heat a large skillet on high heat and toast the nori on both sides for 30 seconds).
Cut the nori sheets into small pieces. In a powerful blender or spice mill, grind the nori in batches to a fine powder.
In a bowl, combine the nori powder, vinegar, oil, soy sauce, and mirin and mix well. Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 days.
Reprinted with permission from “Eventide.” Copyright 2020 by Arlin Smith, Andrew Taylor, and Mike Wiley with Sam Hiersteiner. Photographs copyright 2020 by Zack Bowen. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House.