If I had to pick a favorite dish to eat that I could never give up, white wine steamer clams would be it. It has been a favorite dish of mine since I was young and this New Zealand White Wine Steamer Clams Pasta takes it to a whole new level.
The lovely people at tePā Wines from New Zealand graciously sent me over two bottles of their lovely wine. tePā wines are acclaimed wines from New Zealand’s oldest known settlement on the Wairau Bar in Marlborough, New Zealand. Lots of amazing wines come from Marlborough region of New Zealand. I was sent a bottle of their Koha Sauvignon Blanc and tePā Pinot Gris along with a note about their wines and meaning behind the winery’s name.
The word tePā refers to ” the home” of the first Maori settlers who arrived by canoe from Hawaii to New Zealand. Koha means “a gift” from home. The wines are representatives of their origins on the Wairau Bar along the shore of Cloudy Bay in Marlborough. The Koha Sauvignon blanc is subtly fruit forward with tropical flavors of lime zest and passion fruit with hints of salinity from the sea. The tePā Pinot Gris is a luscious wine with pear, quince and honeyed notes. The rep from tePā said that both wines would go amazing with fish and seafood. I chilled and had a small glass of each wine before deciding which one I wanted to use in this steamer clam pasta recipe.
I have always been a fan of using Sauvignon Blanc in cooking, it tends to hold its flavor better since it is usually a stronger tasting wine. It definitely had all the flavors as described in the tasting notes and I knew it would be perfect for my white wine steamer clams pasta.
Most of the time when I make white wine steamer clams I start off with the same ingredients; butter, garlic, shallot, scallions, lemon juice, clam juice and of course white wine. Sometimes I add in leeks in place of the shallots, sometimes I spice it up a little with red pepper flakes. The base is almost always the same but a few ingredients will vary from time to time. When I serve the white wine steamer clams over pasta I have a secret ingredient that helps season the broth.
That secret ingredient is reserved salted pasta water. Instead of using plain water and adding in salt I love to add the saltiness from the pasta water. It works so well with the briny clam juice and the fruity wine.
I am also a big fan of clam chowder. I will sometimes add in some of the flavors of clam chowder to my steamer clams. Such as bacon and thyme. And a few dashes of hot sauce when eating them. This time I went with some bacon and small grape tomatoes, fresh parsley and shaved parmesan for my toppings. Really the possibilites are endless with steamer clams. I am not the biggest pasta fan ( even though I have a few pasta recipes on my blog) I will often make zucchini noodles or “zoodles” for myself while my husband and daughters eat the traditional pasta or noodles.
When I was messaging back and forth with the people from tePā and was discussing what recipe I was going to make with their wine I had mentioned steamer clams. Their rep told me how much she loves steamer clams and she is close to Cloudy Bay Clams and would use them when making my recipe. Cloudy Bay Clams are a premium surf clam company that sustainably harvests the wild clams and are a pioneer in the industry of harvesting surf clams. I am all for sustainable seafood and shellfish and I love discovering new companies that practice environmentally friendly techniques in their businesses. Too bad they are all the way over in New Zealand and I am all the way over here in Las Vegas. One day I would love to travel to New Zealand to see the tePā winery in person and see how the surf clams are harvested.
Everyone I know that has traveled to New Zealand says it’s one of the most gorgeous countries they have ever been to. They say it is a foodie and a photographers dream country. Everything is super photogenic and scenic and all the food is incredibly fresh and delicious. Now I just need someone to send me since airfare is so steep these days!!
Here is the recipe for the New Zealand White Wine Steamer Clam Pasta. I added in notes about making zucchini noodles “zoodles” in place of the pasta and what to use in place of the pasta water “secret ingredient”. Really anything goes with steamer clam pasta as long as you have that base of garlic, butter and wine. The rest is up to you. And don’t forget to include crusty bread for mopping up the leftover broth as well as more chilled New Zealand Sauvignon blanc or Pinot Gris to sip with this delicious meal.
- 8-10 ounces Capellini pasta (226-283 g)
- 4 thick slices bacon
- 3lbs little neck clams
- 3 Tbsp butter (43 g)
- 1 Tbsp olive oil (14 ml)
- 1/3 C garlic, peeled and minced (113 g)
- 1/4 C shallots, peeled and minced (85 g)
- 1 small bunch scallions ( green onion) diced ( about a cup)
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice (30 ml)
- 1 C New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc ( Koha Sauvignon Blanc) (240 ml)
- 1 C clam juice (240 ml)
- 1 C reserved pasta water* ( 240 ml)
- 1 to 1-1/2 C cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half (155-180g)
- Freshly chopped Italian Parsley
- Parmesan cheese
- Zucchini ( optional for spiralized zucchini “noodles” in place of capellini
- Soak the clams in cold water for 30-40 minutes. Scrub them and discard any with cracked shells or ones that don’t stay closed when pressed close. Change the water a few times to get rid or any sand or grit from the clams.
- In a large pot, fill with water and generously salt. Cook pasta to al dente. *Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water. Set pasta aside.
- Slice the bacon into 1/4” strips, aka lardons, and cook until crispy. Set on a paper towel to drain off excess fat.
- In a large pot heat the butter and olive oil until butter is melted and bubbling and add the garlic, shallots and scallions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add in the pepper and lemon juice. Drain the clams and add to the pot. Stir for one minute then add in the wine, clam juice and reserved pasta water. Bring to a boil and place a lid on top. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until all the clams have opened. Check after 5 minutes and stir then replace lid and cook for another 2-5 minutes. The clam shells are fragile so be careful when stirring so you don’t break any. Taste the broth and add more salt if desired.
- Remove the lid and let the liquid reduce slightly for about 3 more minutes. Discard any clams that didn’t open.
- Divide pasta amongst bowls then top with the clams, shell and all. Ladle a half of a cup or so of broth over the pasta in each bowl then top with the bacon slices, sliced tomatoes, chopped parsley and parmesan cheese. Serve with bread to sop up the steaming broth and a glass of cold, crisp New Zealand white wine, Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris both work excellent with this dish.
If using zucchini in place of capellini pasta spiralize 3-4 large zucchini. Wash and slice off ends then cut in half width wise. Using gentle pressure on the smallest noodle setting make zucchini noodles. Sauté in a sauce pan with either two teaspoons butter or two teaspoons olive oil. Season with a little salt and pepper then place in bowls. Top with clams, broth and remaining ingredients as stated above. Since there will be no reserved salted pasta water with using zucchini noodles you can add in an extra cup of clam juice in place of the water and 1/2 tsp to 1 tsp sea salt or season to taste with salt. OR heat 1 cup of water to a simmer and dissolve 1/2 -1 tsp salt then add that to the pot of clams.
Thank you again to tePā wines for sending me these two lovely bottles of wine to sample. I received no compensation and wasn’t required to create a recipe with their wine. I have been wanting to share this white wine steamer clam pasta recipe for quite some time now and I felt that with how amazing these wines were they were perfect for this recipe.