I like to say I was born with a stainless steel thumb - my culinary equivalent of the green thumb - and that's a lucky thing for me since my passion in life is food and cooking, and everything that comes a long with it.
What do I do with my life? I dream food, think food, look at food, read about food, work in the food business, travel via food, talk about food, use food as my artistic muse, teach others about food, and clearly, cook, play with and EAT food!
Food is my compass.
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
So, it's HALLOWEEN!! Unfortunately, I didn't have all of the above ingredients from Billy Shakespeare's hell-broth - but maybe next year. Of course, I had to keep thematically appropriate - it is one of my favorite holidays after all. A wave of nostalgia always sweeps over me around this time of year. I always loved dressing up and trick-or-treating as a wee one, the Halloween parades in elementary school, and I absolutely LOVED watching Disney's Halloween Treat (anybody...anybody?). McDonald's Halloween trick-or-treating pails came out, as did the Pennywhistle Halloween Party Book. I remember how my mom used to deck out the house with creepy decorations - including the giant spider that she rigged up from the entrance into our house, that would drop RIGHT in your face as soon as you closed the door shut. (AMAZING! Bringing this one back, big time) The old Halloween parties we used to have were always great, dancing to the Monster Mash, eating eyeballs, worms in dirt, pickled brains, zombie fingers, you name it. The grosser, the better. Heck, Hocus Pocus is one of the best movies ever. Shout out to SJP on that one! Oh, and mashed boo-tatoes. Thank you, Martha.
Honestly, I can't wait until I have an actual HOUSE that I can decorate, where kids come and trick-or-treat, and get terrified/entertained by all of my Halloween to-dos. Obviously, I will be giving out King Size Candy Bars. Dear person who hands out apples (not even caramel or candied), quarters, and other not exciting things: you are the Scrooge of Halloween. Granted, I'm generally opposed to mass-produced hullabaloo such as candy bars, but I'll make exceptions for Halloween. Soon, that day will come! But for now, I'm just going to stick with some serious cooking business. So why not amp it up this year with something macabre or downright gruesome? Or - something only a pescatarian vampire (?) would eat - BLOOD CLAMS! You heard me - blood clams. No, these aren't like blood diamonds - they are legitimate, live, bloody clams. Mmm, gory!
Seemingly normal on the outside...
All that bloody goodness on the inside! Before we get ahead of ourselves, let's hit up some biology. Most clams/any bivalve or mollusk you see has clear "liquor" inside. What's different with these little gems is the presence of hemoglobin and myoglobin in their blood - an oxygen-transporting protein. Of course I had to have blood clams on Halloween! Deliciously appropriate. Like any other clam, this can be eaten raw, with some cocktail sauce or a squeeze of lemon, or cooked. Blood Clam chowder anyone? I decided to give it a little kick and make it into a ceviche, so...partially cooked! I did try one of these guys on their own, just to see what the flavor was like - of course, it had the typical shellfish flavors of the ocean, but this was just a bit more "meaty" tasting if you will - a bit more depth of flavor than standard shellfish. So sanguine!
Blood Clam Ceviche
8 blood clams, shucked
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup diced watermelon
2 T thinly sliced scallion, plus more for garnish
2 T thinly sliced jalapeno, plus more for garnish
Ceviche is literally the easiest thing in the world to make - and I love it! Combine all of the ingredients besides the salt together and let sit for about two minutes. Be sure not to let it sit any longer lest your clams will become tough and chewy! Note: in ceviche, seafood is essentially "cooked" (proteins denatured) by the acid it's sitting in. You can see this best with a thin slice of some white-fleshed fish. If you squeeze lemon or lime on it, you can literally watch as it becomes more and more opaque over time. Yay cooking! Drain some of the liquid from the mixture and serve. For looks, I put the clams back into their shells with just a bit of it's marinating liquid, ensuring to get a few pieces of watermelon in there also. Top with a few slices of scallion and jalapeno, a tiny sprinkling of salt, and you're ready to dig in!
So you may not be able to find any blood clams around, but I assure you this preparation is just as good with any other bivalve - or any fish for that matter! A little bit of sweetness, plus a little bit of kick - not to mention a great textural combination between the melon, clam, pepper, and scallion. There you have it! So if you're bloodthirsty, seek these out. Otherwise, have a GREAT Halloween, and don't forget - King Size candy bars always win.