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Tangy Steamed Clams with Corn, Fennel and Creme Fraiche

Sweet corn and briny clams are a classic American pairing that dates back hundreds of years. Native Americans used to steam clams with lobster in pits dug in the sand, and eventually, chowder was born by adding water and cream to the mix.

At Milk Street, we honor this summertime tradition by creating a recipe that combines the two ingredients in a chowder or brothy clambake. Our recipe from the book “COOKish” elevates the combination by substituting a couple of flavor-packed ingredients.

Instead of using potatoes, we use fresh fennel bulb, which adds anise notes and contrasting texture. And instead of cream, we finish the dish with a small amount of tangy crème fraîche or whole-milk yogurt. This creates a subtly creamy broth that perfectly complements the briny-sweet liquid released by the clams.

If possible, use freshly shucked corn kernels (approximately 2 cups) for this recipe. However, frozen corn works well too when fresh corn is not in season. Serve this dish with oyster crackers or crusty bread to soak up the delicious broth.

Steamed clams with corn, fennel, and creme fraiche

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 4


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium fennel bulb, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 cups corn kernels
  • 2 pounds hard-shell clams (such as littleneck or Manila), scrubbed
  • ¼ cup crème fraîche or plain whole-milk yogurt


In a Dutch oven, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the fennel, onion, fennel seeds, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are lightly browned. Stir in the corn and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil and add the clams. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring once or twice, until the clams have opened. Stir once more, then remove and discard any clams that haven’t opened. Off heat, stir in the crème fraîche and ½ teaspoon of pepper. Season with salt.

Optional garnish: Hot sauce, chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, lemon wedges, or a combination

Get more recipes and dinner ideas from ViralNewsScope food section.

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