My mother-in-law made up a story a few years ago about a mermaid she met while walking on the beach in South Carolina. The story enchanted my daughters. They talk about that mermaid still today and look for her in washed up conch shells that they find on that beach.
This past summer, I made this dish for my in-laws when we were all at the beach again. Mim, as my mother-in-law is called, loved this dish—she said it was the best pasta she had ever had—WOW!
It’s worth a try— just overlook the cream used, it is worth it.
If you use fresh clams, in their shell, there are several steps to this dish. The clams add a lot of flavour, but you can do without them if you can’t find fresh clams, or you want a quicker dish. The sweetness of the corn and scallops plays well of the salty ham. This calls for a bit of cream, but the taste of the final product is absolutely worth the calories!
2 dozen small clams in their shells, scrubbed (of you can’t find them fresh, skip them)
2 tablespoons butter
1 large, ripe tomato, chopped small
½ small red onion, diced
1/3 cup sliced prosciutto or ‘country ham’ (found in southern states), sliced small
1 ear fresh corn, cut from the cob, or ¾ cup frozen (thawed)
½ cup clam liquor (cooking broth) or white wine
1 pint heavy cream
1 heaping tablespoon fresh tarragon, chopped
A few dashed red pepper flakes
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 pound sea scallops, cut in quarters
1 pound pasta
1) Have everything chopped and ready to go. Place a big pot of salted water on to boil for the pasta.
2) If you are using fresh clams, steam them open in salted water. Remove them as soon as they pop open. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid (this is called the ‘liquor’).
3) Once the water in your big pot is boiling, add in the pasta.
4) In a large sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons butter until frothy, sauté the onion until translucent, then add in the ham, tomato and corn and sauté for 1 minute. Now pour in the clam liquor or white wine and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add in cream and tarragon, bring to a simmer and cook for a minute or two. Add in scallops, bring back to a simmer and cook (uncovered) for 1 minute. Add in the shrimp and simmer until no longer pink (just a few minutes). At the last minute, add the clams back in and toss to heat through.
5) Taste and season with salt. Toss with pasta.
For a bit more refined presentation, this sauce can also be served over rice. Serves 8