Dining In

Succulent Shellfish
By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist

Clams with Red Peppers and Pasta

If you have skipped the seafood counter or fish market as prices climbed, take another look.   

There is good news. Scallops, a favorite of seafood lovers, are in good supply with a consequent reduction in price. Virginia suppliers say scallops have “come back” after some scarcity. And other good news is that they are bigger than ever. Springtime is the best time to buy scallops. That is when they are at their best price.

Another Virginia gift from the sea is clams but, interestingly, clams are more popular with Northerners than Southerners. Much of our healthy supply of both wild and farmed clams is shipped north. Southerners’ infatuation with oysters may have contributed to the snubbing of these mollusks. And many cooks confess, they just never have tried clams.

A new brochure, produced by the Virginia Marine Products Board, offers help to would-be clam cooks, shellfish lovers who are denying themselves or their families, or those looking for new ideas.

Affordable Shellfish tells how and when to select crabs, clams, oysters and scallops — all Virginia shellfish. Preparation and shelf-life information are also provided. In addition, there are “stretcher” tips from Virginia chefs and recipes ranging from super simple to fancy.

And if you haven’t tried clams, do. They are available both shucked and in the shell. In the shell they make a handsome entrée, as our photo demonstrates. Scallops in a cucumber sauce served cold over a baked potato? That recipe was inspired by a tuna salad served on baked potato that I enjoyed in Scotland last summer. I thought it was so good that I experimented with scallops — even better!

To order Affordable Shellfish or Affordable Fish (advising how to enjoy plentiful, yet affordable, fish like bluefish, spot, croaker and mackerel), send a stamped self-addressed business envelope for each to: Virginia Marine Products Board, 554 Denbigh Blvd., Suite B, Newport News, VA 23608.

Scallops in Cucumber Sauce


bullet4 medium baking potatoes
bullet12 to 15 large scallops


bullet1 cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
bullet1⁄2 t salt
bullet1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
bullet1⁄2 cup sour cream
bullet1⁄2 T horseradish
bullet1 t grated onion
bullet1⁄2 T tarragon vinegar
bulletSalt to taste
bulletFresh cilantro, dill or parsley, about 1⁄2 cup, chopped

Directions: Bake potatoes until done. While potatoes are baking, quarter or halve scallops and steam over simmering water in covered skillet for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove when done (opaque) and refrigerate. To make sauce: Cover sliced cucumbers with water. Sprinkle with salt. Let set for 30 minutes. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish, onion and vinegar. Mix well. Drain cucumber and dry on paper towels. Add to sauce. Add additional salt, if needed. Fold in fresh cilantro. To serve, make cross slices in potatoes, press open. Divide scallops and arrange on potatoes. Top with cucumber sauce. Serves 4.

Clams with Red Peppers and Pasta


bullet3 doz. littleneck or cherrystone clams
bullet1⁄4 cup vinegar
bullet8 oz. green linguine or other pasta
bullet2 T olive oil
bullet2 T butter
bullet1 clove garlic, minced
bullet1 hot red chili pepper, minced (or cayenne, to taste, about 1⁄8 t)
bullet2 large red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
bullet1⁄2 t fresh rosemary, chopped
bullet1⁄2 t fresh thyme leaves, chopped
bullet1⁄2 t salt
bullet1⁄4 t pepper

Directions: Scrub clams; cover with water and vinegar. Let stand 30 minutes.  Drain and rinse. Prepare pasta according to package directions so that its completion coincides with rest of preparation. Heat oil and butter in skillet. Add garlic and hot pepper. Sauté gently about 1 minute. Stir in remaining ingredients and clams. Cover and simmer 6 to 10 minutes or until clams open. Serve over cooked pasta. Serves 4.  


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