After all that raw product I put up last week, here’s some pix of the pre-Christmas meal we cooked up with my Dad. He loves all kinds of wild food, so I packed the raw ingredients in a little cooler for our flight, then we put together a kind of Northwest surf-n-turf dinner. Appetizer above is a chunk of alder-smoked Willapa Bay coho from September.
Perhaps the best part of cooking and eating wild food is the stories and people that come to mind with each ingredient. That coho makes me think of the day Sweeney and I caught it, and how we limited by early afternoon and didn’t know what to do with ourselves for the rest of the day. The razor clams, here fried in a crisp, panko breading, bring back all the fun the kids and I had on the beach with the Sweeneys a few weeks ago.
The elk backstrap pictured here, marinated in olive oil, garlic and rosemary, then pan seared, reminds me of our good friend Kate Taylor (she’s the source) and all that went into her Montana elk hunt.
Finally, put it all together and it’s more than a great meal; it’s a plate full of stories and thoughts of friends, places and times. Delicious.
After our nocturnal clam dig, we returned to the Sweeney home for a most welcome, hot dinner (Thanks, Mia!) and cozy bedtime for kids. Then, despite an increasing gravitational pull that seemed to be strongest on the couch, Sweeney and I headed out to the garage for a long session of clam cleaning. The perfect post-dinner activity.
We dipped the clams in boiling water to remove the shells, then plunged them into cold water to keep ’em from cooking. Pictured above, razors minus their shells, ready for cleaning. A little scissor work to remove guts and a quick rinse and they were good to go. Of course, it sounds quick and easy, but when you multiply by 70 or 80 clams, well…Sweeney and I had a good long stretch of work. But I actually enjoyed the time, just shooting the breeze and hanging out with a good buddy. Finished up and hit the rack around 2:00am.
Next night, back at home, the kids and I went for a major-league clam feast. Here they are covered in crispy panko, fresh out of the pan. Tender, sweet, meaty, crisp, savory…the best-eating bivalve on the planet. And completely worth the effort.