Clam Risotto, Demystified

Zen can cook, so can you.
(Old Proverb)

Get ready to take a walk on the wild side my friends, because today we will break the wall that separates man… from his risotto. Yes you heard me right, you can say goodbye to boiled or sticky looking rice by surrendering to the instructions on this post, i guarantee the reward for your boldness will be a risotto that’s both creamy and deeply flavorful. Savor this delicious moment not only for its pleasure, but for the pride. The pride to have finally mastered a staple of culinary delight long regarded by amateur gourmets everywhere a ‘major pain in the ass’ (..’scuse my French) as well as a great source of stress (..that’s English).

Now it’s your turn to experience the deep satisfaction to have contributed something meaningful to humanity your belly. Expect change in your life from that point on like, your neighbors looking at you with envy, your boss giving you unexpected compliments, even your co-workers might stop bullying you! Risotto mastery has a profound effect on mankind . Enjoy your newfound confidence.

Are you ready for the jump?

Wh..What do you mean shut up and cook?

Fine! Open the bottle of white wine and drink two cups to ensure yourself of the quality of the product. It is acceptable to repeat this step as long as you are not convinced. Save a cup and a half for the recipe. It is advised to stay home during this experiment and wear a helmet in case you suddenly pass-out.

Clam Risotto

(serves 4)

  • 6 pounds clams, cleaned (littlenecks, manila, cherrystone, whattava you like)
  • 1 pound mussels (to give a deeper flavor)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves steeped in 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 Jalapeno chile or other fresh chile, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped very fine
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

First the broth, heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pan. Add the garlic and the chopped chile to the pan and cook without allowing to color. A minute or so. Add the clams, the mussels and 1 cup of white wine, cover and continue to cook over high heat. Depending on the variety of clams used some of them cook faster than others. Add one tablespoon of tomato paste to the pot and cover with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and let cook about 10 minutes. At this point, all the clams and mussels should be opened and you should have a very flavorful broth, if you don’t you have seriously screwed up along the way! Reserve the clams, pick the small ones for garnish, and chop the large ones. Set aside. Strain the broth and keep at a bare simmer in the back of the stove.

Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add the onion. Cook gently until the onion is soft but not colored. Add the rice and stir around to coat with butter, about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the wine (1/2 cup) and let completely evaporate while stirring. Add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and keep stirring.

Over medium-high heat, start adding the clam broth, a ladleful at the time (about 3/4 cup), stirring the rice as you do so. When each addition of the broth has almost evaporated, add the next ladleful. Continue cooking the risotto for about 15 minutes. The risotto is ready when the grains are soft but still al dente.
Turn off the heat and add the shelled clams, 2 tablespoons of garlic oil, the lemon juice and the parsley. Rectify the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Let the risotto rest for a minute and start adding the cold butter while stirring vigorously. When shaking the pan, the risotto should move like waves and be very creamy. Add a little more broth if needed to reach the desired consistency and serve immediately. Garnish with the clams in their shells. Enjoy.
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  • Rasa Malaysia

    Ooooh, this is totally my kind of dish…6 pounds of clams and then mussels, too? I love shellfish and just served mine on my site.

    Good job! I love risotto. :)

  • cakebrain

    Holy Smokes! that looks sooooo good! I’m going to have to bookmark that recipe to make in the future!

  • Manggy

    Wow! That looks delicious and perfect! Uh… I’ll try to see how much 6 pounds of clams costs. Surely it can’t be that expensive, huh? Thank you for not including annoying ingredients like clam juice, which I can’t find here! I’ll have to try this sometime!

    PS Nice eye shot– again 😀

  • Manggy

    Oh, by the way– that is totally NOT an old proverb. Hahaha :) If Zen can cook, it’s because he’s a talented professional!

  • foodhuntress79

    Holy guacamole! I cooked arborio with clams and mussels and olive oil + parsley+ tomato + butter + parsley, etc.- a week ago! I should’ve seen this post earlier!

    Tu eres muy guapo. Haha!

  • Peter M

    Not that I’m complaining but you’re risotto looks yellow…is there any saffron in there?

    Ya got the creamy down-pat!

  • Ann

    Mmmm… that’s a lotta clams! I like it!

  • Claude-Olivier

    tu as raison, il faut absolument être sûr que le vin soit bon avant de l’utiliser dans la recette, quitte à ouvrir une seconde bouteille 😉 Bien joué chef! Ciao

  • Elle

    I’m speechless. Almost. God, that looks amazing! I’m starving. :)

  • jon

    I’m just astonished by the quality of your blog my friend. :) It’s nice to surface and visit. :) This is one recipe i’m going to use immediately! :)

  • Anali

    Is this the first full frontal that we’ve seen of you? And may I say a very nice front. Love the clam risotto too! : )

  • Function of Time

    I have to be frank here. Love the risotto, not so much on the clam. Not have i have a lot of experience with said clam, mind you. I just haven’t met a clam that i have liked. The ones i have met have been…well…clammy.

  • Randi

    can’t you just come over and cook this for me? seriously, it looks really delicious. I’m waiting….

  • Kevin

    That clam risotto looks really good! That is a lot of clams and it sounds really tasty.

  • Zen Chef

    Rasa Malaysia.. yes, the more the merrier right? I just visited your blog.. those mussels look fabulous! :-)

    Cakebrain please do! Let me know how it goes.

    Manggy, clams are usually pretty cheap and in this case you’re making your own clam juice. It’s much much better, let me tell ya!
    Is it not an old proverb? hehehehe :-)

    Foodhuntress, great timing once again! 😉 And ‘danke schon’ for the compliment! hehe.

    Peter, it’s the tablespoon of tomato paste in the rice that turns it yellow. I guess you could use a little bit of saffron.

    Ann, yup a lot! But clams are heavy for the most part so when you look at it, it’s not that many.

    Claude olivier, j’aime bien ta philosophie. Pourquoi n’ai je pas pense a ouvrir une deuxieme bouteille? Merci de m’avoir ouvert les yeux. :-)

    Elle, that’s your next project! hehe. :-)

    Jon!! So glad to see you around here! Please do and let me know what you think.

    Anali, thank you dawling! No it’s not my first time. I like to pimp myself once in a while! haha.

    Colleen, replace it by Chhiickken!! hehe

    Randi, you would regret that. I would empty your wine closet! hehe. Welcome to my humble home by the way.

    Kevin, oh it is really good… or as they say in germany…mucho bueno! 😉

  • daphne

    oh that risotto looks great- good consistency.

  • glamah16

    You demystified it and seduced me with all that shell fish. So good!

  • Jack

    Goddamn, I loves me some risotto and I loves me some clams. Another one for my “Gotta try that list”, dammit!

  • Cakespy

    Zen Chef, you do have an awfully cold stare! Way to channel that Bruce Wayne hotttttness! And holy yum, this risotto, while looking completely out of the realm of my capabilities, DOES look like something that I could coerce Mr. Cakespy into making for me.

  • Jenny

    I’m still not sure why I haven’t tackled risotto, sheesh it looks amazing and I’m not even a seafood fan. Great step by step pics for us “amateurs!” Love the steamy hot clam shot!

  • Emiline

    Manggy always leaves really good comments everywhere. I enjoy reading them.

    This looks very good…of course. It would be nice to walk into a store that sells fresh clams here.

    You’re a good lookin’ guy. I don’t know about Batman though.

  • waliz

    i love seafood..i definitely will like this..:D

  • breadpitt

    omg, those risotto are making me feels hungry. reminds me of clam paste when i was working in bakerzin.
    your tittle roxx!

  • Ryan Placchetti

    I’ve never thought of clams as being badass. I’ve lived a lie.

    It looks amazing, I definitely like the color.

  • Tartelette

    Man you look good…uh..the risotto looks good! I can’t cook rice properly so I always end up risotto. If people only knew I am not trying to show off but that I am steamed rice challenged!

  • farida

    yummy for my tommy, as my daughter says:) Looks terrific!

  • Cynthia

    I bow to the master.

  • We Are Never Full

    This recipe is just screaming summertime to me. For some reason, clams are a summer thing in my mine. BRING IT. this looks delish!


  • AzAzura

    I love clam!!! and I never had it paired with risotto as my risotto is always a vegetarian ones :(.Definitely would want to eat this .
    Love your writing … as always x

  • Chase Bjørnsen Ravndal

    OOohh I love risottos and especially this one! It looks sooo divine and makes me think that I need to get ass back in the kitchen. But then again I need inspiration! Huhuhu

  • Dhanggit

    i have this unexplainable urge have clams these past few days..i guess this must be it! this risotto looks gorgeously delicious!! lovely blend!!

  • AzAzura

    BTW, i forgot to add to the picture,you must have mispelled it – was that zen chef’s cold stare or is it “cute stare”it looks like the latter to me …

  • TavoLini

    I feel this post is directed towards me and my stiff, uncreamy, unsucculant risotto…

    I will try this. And I’ll make sure to keep my wine glass full 😉

  • Psychgrad

    Great instructions. I think I could do this in my own kitchen. Particularly the drinking two cups of wine part.

  • Marc @ norecipes

    Wow! I thought I was over risotto until I saw your post. Looks like risotto and I will be having another go of it.

  • Big Boys Oven

    this is so unhuman of you showing such gorgeous and so inviting risotto and me not getting to taste, this is very very bad, guess I have drop by at your door soon! hahahahh Lesly will be flying over this thursday guess she will be arriving on friday!

  • canarygirl

    Oh my GAWWWWD. That looks SO freaking good. I think I may have to give it a go this week. Clams are super fresh and delightfully inexpensive right now. *big sigh of contentment* :)

  • Mary Coleman

    My goodness, that is some fine looking clam risotto.
    Fabulous. Glad to find your blog, you’re my kind of chef!!

  • Lisa Doricchi

    Ok I’m headed to the eastern shore of Virginia tomorrow just to buy fresh clams off the seaside for this very recipe. I’m hooked.