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Clams Thyme and Proscuito (or Bacon)

On a tight budget, clams are not the sort of food I'd suggest you go out and buy but I've included this recipe here for three reasons:

  1. They keep for three months in the freezer and are often the sort of thing left behind when the meat has all been used up, because people don't know how to cook them

  2. Often digging in the sand at the beach, just beyond the waters edge usually at low tide, you'll find clams (or pipis, cockles, tuatuas and a variety of other relatives to the clam - all of which are edible and can be treated the same way). In which case you just scored a free feed!

  3. I've seen them on special at butchers and fish shops, where they have actually worked out cheaper than cooking red meat. Surviving on a tight budget means being able to seize an opportunity when it arises, so learn how to prepare a variety of foods and be ready to seize the moment.

A collection of pipis, cockles and tuatuas

Pipis, cockles. clams or tuatuas work equally well for this recipe

This recipe originally called for proscuito. Having no proscuito I substituted bacon and it worked perfectly. Since proscuito is twice the price, lets stay with bacon and not blow out the budget.

This will make 6 delicious servings and although clams are not cheap, the rich sauce they produce means a few clams go a long way.

Clams with prosciutto and thyme

The finished dish - one of six tasty servings.

As the clams cook, they will open and release their rich juices. These combine with the oil, garlic, white wine, lemon and thyme to create a rich liquor which is taken up in the proscuito, making this a surprisingly filling dish.


  • 1.5kg of clams

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 75 grams of prosciutto or bacon, diced

  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced.

  • 1 teaspoon sweet chilli sauce

  • 1/2 red capsicum finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 2 strips lemon rind, finely chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme.

  • Garnishes: lemon wedges, fresh herbs.

Pipis cooking in a sause

I used pipis instead of clams and it was just as delicious


  1. Shell fish can easily give a party a serious bout of food poisoning. If the shellfish has not been frozen (in which case they will often be already open when they thaw), check the clams for any that are already open and discard them. They are already dead and could be "off" - you don't want a couple of "off" clams turning the whole meal toxic. If the shells are not clean, scrub the clams well with a brush in salted water (fresh water will leach the flavour out of the clams).

  2. Heat oil and butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.

  3. Add prosciutto (or bacon); cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until browned.

  4. Add garlic and red capsicum and cook 2 minutes.

  5. Add wine, lemon rind, and thyme then bring to a boil.

  6. Add clams; cover and cook on low heat, stirring occasionally, 3 to 6 minutes or until clams open.

  7. Spoon into individual bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and add garnish, if desired.


Potassium rich
Although shellfish like clams and pipis contain some fat, it is healthy unsaturated fat that is easily digested. They are also very high in potassium, something people are often low on, in their diet. A dozen small clams will yield 470mg of potassium.

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Bar - Gold bar with Granny Smith Apple

Serving Suggestions

A perfect accompaniment for this is a side dish of asparagus or slices of zuccini, steamed to perfection and glazed with a sauce of fine chopped tomatoes and celery sorteed in butter and a dash of lemon juice, liberally sprinkled with fresh ground black pepper.

Why not add an orange vegetable too?

Peel and dice some pumpkin or sweet potato into 2cm (approx 1 inch) cubes and steam until cooked. Add as a garnish to both the clams and to the green vegetables.

The end result is a truely gourmet meal that didn't break the bank.

poeple digging for shellfish at a beach

A good day out - a day at the beach with the kids and free feed.

Remember the two rules for gathering shellfish:

  • Never take shellfish that has had the sun on it.

  • If you only take enough for today's meal, here will always be some for tomorrow.

Bar - Gold bar with Granny Smith Apple

Basket of Fresh herbs

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