Since arriving from New Zealand a few years ago, chef Maartyn Hoogeveen of Unsworth Vineyards has fallen in love with B.C. seafood, especially the clams. To make sure you don’t get grit in the dish, he advises “purging” the clams by placing them in cold water for 5 to 10 minutes so they spit out any sand. (Most store-bought clams will have been purged already.)
As for the wine pairing, Unsworth sommelier Chris Turyk says, “This dish is crying for Vancouver Island Pinot Gris. Our 2019 Saison Vineyard Pinot Gris has both the breadth of flavour and enough texture to stand shoulder to shoulder with the acidity of the tomato and the fennel, which is sometimes tricky to pair. Although not full in body, our Pinot Gris has some weight to complement its vibrancy and the clams bring out the wine’s slightly salty or saline notes.”
Steamed Vancouver Island Clams
-3 Tbsp canola oil
-1 lb tricolour cherry tomatoes 5 cloves garlic, crushed
-1 shallot, finely chopped
-1 bulb fennel, finely chopped, and fronds chopped and reserved
-1 serrano pepper, seeded, deveined and finely chopped
-2 lbs live clams, purged
-1 cup Unsworth Vineyards
-2019 Pinot Gris
-1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cubed 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley Salt and black pepper, to taste
-Fresh focaccia, to serve
1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over high heat, until it just starts to smoke.
2. Add tomatoes and pan-fry for 1 minute, until slightly blistered.
3. Add garlic, shallot, chopped fennel bulb and serrano pepper and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes over high heat, until vegetables are soft and fragrant.
4. Add clams, Pinot Gris and butter.
5. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until clams have opened up.
6. Discard any unopened clams.
7. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes until the sauce has reduced down by a third.
8. Stir in parsley and half the fennel fronds, then season to taste.
9. Transfer to serving bowls and scatter the remaining fennel fronds on top.
10. Serve with fresh focaccia—and the remaining Pinot Gris.
Excerpted from Island Eats: Signature Chefs’ Recipes from Vancouver Island and the Salish Sea by Dawn Postnikoff and Joanne Sasvari. Photographs by Gabriel Cabrera and Danika McDowell. Recipes copyright © 2021 by individual restaurants. Excerpted with permission from Figure 1 Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.