The Pacific Northwest boasts a rich bounty of shellfish. Bring out the best flavors of your mussels and clams with these flavorful steamers. The spicy broth is the highlight of this dish, so make sure to soak it up with a few pieces of freshly-baked bread. 

1-1½ pounds live mussels

1-1½ pounds live clams

4 tablespoons salted butter

1 cup dry white wine

3 tablespoons jalapeno pepper or other hot pepper, seeded and diced

1 small sweet onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped

Freshly ground pepper, to taste


To clean the shellfish and debeard the mussels:

  1. Throw away any shellfish that are not tightly shut. (The open ones are dead and could make you sick.) Scrub the remaining mussels and clams under cold water to remove any seaweed, barnacles, or grit, and then submerge the shellfish in a bowl of cold water. (They will open up and purge any sand.)
  2. Depending on where you buy your mussels, they may or may not still have their beards, pieces that protrude outside of the closed shells. If they are still attached, squeeze the beard close to the shell and gently pull down, then discard the beards. Let the shellfish soak in the cold water for 15-20 minutes, or until they are all open, then strain out the sandy water. The shellfish will close up again.

For the steamers:

  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add mussels, clams, wine, jalapeno, onion, garlic, and lemon juice.
  2. Cover and let steam for 8-12 minutes or until almost all of the shellfish have opened again.
  3. Discard any that have not opened up. (If they have not opened up, then they are not fully cooked.) Stir in lemon zest and basil. Season with pepper to taste.
  4. Serve shellfish and broth in bowls with a side of crusty bread. 
Serving Size:
Makes 4 servings.
Seattle Tilth
Allyse Ingalls