Karin’s Curried Clam Pie

It’s not that often that I am introduced to a dish that’s completely new to me. Recipes so often seem like variations on a theme, the same old dish spun a little differently. Show me something new, and I’ll race over to your place for dinner.

Which is how we found ourselves at our family friend Karin’s apartment the other night. When Karin first mentioned the phrase clam pie to us over Thanksgiving, I couldn’t picture quite what she was talking about—did she mean a clam pizza? Or some sort of chicken pot pie filled with clam chowder?

Not exactly—this clam pie was rich with ginger, coconut, and turmeric, and spiked with fresh jalapeno and cilantro. The recipe was inspired by a fish curry from Macau, but with clams instead, and served inside a savory part-whole-wheat pie crust. The key, Karin revealed, was to just barely steam the clams open, then use the resulting broth for cooking the potatoes, thus infusing them with perfect sweet clam flavor. Genius.

So we scored ourselves an invitation.

While I admired Karin’s gorgeous kitchen remodel and drooled over her well-planned cabinet space, she grated the aromatics and sliced some long beans to add to the curry. Soon, the yellow curry was secured under softly folded pie dough, and the rich scent of coconut and spice filled the kitchen.

Studded with shelled clams and rich, creamy potatoes, it made for a warm and comforting winter meal—and a new, refreshingly exotic one at that! We all had seconds, and I demanded the recipe on the spot.

Are there any completely new recipes in your lives these days?

Karin’s Curried Clam Pie

For the filling
30-40 clams, manila or littleneck

Boil the clams in just enough water to cover, in batches no more than 2 layers deep, shell them, rough chop and set aside in refrigerator. Do NOT discard the strong broth!

2 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced

Then, boil the diced potatoes in the clam broth until just barely tender – 10-13 minutes, depending on the size of your dice – dice should hold their shape, they will cook more during baking.

Stop, make the pie crust dough (below) and put it in the fridge, then go back to making the curry filling.

2 T. oil (canola or whatever flavorless oil you like, but not corn or olive oil)
5 big cloves garlic, minced
2 large yellow onions, diced
½ cup Chinese long beans, cut in ¾” pieces
2 tsp. Turmeric

1 ½ tsp. Cumin
2 tsp. Cinnamon
¼ tsp. Thai chili flakes + ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
½ tsp. each Coriander + Cardamom
1 tsp. salt + fresh-ground black pepper
1 can unsweetened coconut milk

Saute the garlic and onions, when they get translucent add the dry spices, then add the long beans & stir in the coconut milk. Then stir in:

½ cup tiny dried shrimp (optional)
½ cup shredded, dried unsweetened coconut

Keep stirring over low heat until most of the liquid has evaporated, then remove from heat.

Aromatics:
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped (not very fine)
1 bunch fresh scallions, green part only, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded & minced fine
Zest and juice of 1 lime
2 -3 Tbsp. fresh grated ginger (using a fine microplane, grate a piece of ginger bigger than your thumb)

Fold the cooked potatoes into the curry mixture, then after it has cooled to almost room temperature, add the fresh aromatics, then fold in the clams. Preheat oven to 350.

The Dough:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour ( or just use 2 cups white flour, but a bit of whole wheat adds a nice texture to the crust)
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut in small dice & refrigerated again: icy cold!!
8 Tbsp. ice water
1tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. turmeric
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
Some fresh black pepper

Mix flour & spices thoroughly, then cut in butter and ice water, using 2 knives or a pastry blender. Work fast & don’t touch it with your hands too much: as soon as dough will hold together in a crumbly ball, gather it up in plastic wrap & refrigerate. Roll out the crust only when the dough is good & cold & solid – the ball of dough should not be pliable to the touch when removed from fridge. This dough has a lot of butter, so you don’t need to grease your pie dish, and you don’t need to blind-bake it.

Roll out crust, drape over a 10” casserole or deep-dish pie pan & pat into the edges. Fill generously, but you should be able to fold the crust completely over the top of the filling. Fold dough over filling, covering completely. It should look rustic. Bake about 45 minutes for a deep 10″ pie.

In clams, pie

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