Other than the popular tomato juice Clamato, most people don't really associate clam juice with much else. The name in itself sounds as appealing as, well, shucking a bushel of clams. Clam juice, however, is not to be dismissed. Like a less potent version of fish sauce, clam juice can enhance the flavor factor of a prepared meal, and dare say it, become a new staple that you simply can't go without. It's not just for seafood recipes anymore. Clam juice is the cooking liquid you need in your rotation.
Clam juice may sound like some weird bivalve recipe involving a juicer and a bunch of clams, but even that is a little crazy for the diehard juicer fanatic. What clam juice refers to is clam broth. Clam juice is made by shucking clams and then steaming them. The broth is then filtered and bottled clam juice is basically ready to go. Considering all those tasty seafood broths made for slurping, clam juice is probably sounding pretty good, no?
You may be wondering about the meat, but fear not, there is no wasting here. The clam meat is packaged and sold, so no clams needed to die for the sake of their juice.
The juice you find bottled will most likely only have one additional ingredient: salt. Some brands can be more salty, or less salty - kind of like fish sauce. The salty, briny juice is used by home cooks and chefs as a flavoring agent.
How to Use Clam Juice
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What do you flavor with clam juice? There are a number of dishes made better all with a little fish stock flavor. The most popular one being pasta sauce. Risotto, linguine, spaghetti, you name it, clam juice will enhance it. Add it to a rich creamy Alfredo, dash some in a marinara sauce, or use it in any Italian garlicky seafood dish. You'll notice how the mineral-like briny flavor contributes a unique quality to your dish.
Clam juice doesn't stop there. It is an excellent accompaniment and secret ingredient to a white wine marinade, added to a soup like a fish chowder, dashed into ceviche, splashed into a cocktail, and used in deglazing a pan. Sub it in Asian cooking for fish sauce if you find that fish sauce is too pungent for your liking.
If you're in the market for a good bottle of clam juice - like everything quality is key - then try Bar Harbor clam juice. Straight from the lobster mecca of Maine, the Bar Harbor brand is all natural with not preservatives, MSG, or sediment. It's also hand filtered with premium clams - no discarded clams here. A good flavor behind a trusty product, you can't go wrong with Bar Harbor.
Now that you have your bottle of clam juice, put it to good use with these recipes.
1. Quick Easy Fish Stew
The secret to creating a quick, yet delicious fish stew? Clam juice. With clam juice added to the broth, this fish stew is fully infused with flavor. Garlic, onions, tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine, and clam juice make up the base of the broth, while a firm white fish is left to simmer.
Add a side of crusty bread, and dinner is served. Get the recipe here.
2. Linguini with Clams and Mussels in a Spicy Red Sauce
Clam juice in linguine is a home cooking trick that's been around for years. In this delicious Linguine with Clams and Mussels in a Spicy Red Sauce recipe, the dish gets an added kick with a spicy twist. Making for a satisfying seafood dinner, the linguine is tossed in a white wine and red pepper flakes tomato-base clam sauce with a mound of fresh clams and mussels.
Chef's Note: Keep the clams and mussels in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook. This way, they keep fresh.
3. The Boston Bloody Mariner
It may be tempting to opt for the Clamato, but once you add the real stuff to this Mary filled with Worcestershire, horseradish, fresh herbs, pepper sauce, tomato juice, white wine, and vodka, you'll understand why.