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Mussels and manila clams steamed with

leeks, fennel and wine; a reason to put

easy and spectacular in one sentence.

Who knew you didn’t have to go to

Manila to get Manila clams. One

might assume that they are not local

to British Columbia just by the name.

In fact they were introduced, albeit

accidentally, to our waters in the 1930’s.


For one of my favourite suppliers of fresh shellfish in Vancouver check out The Lobster Man on Granville Island. Yes, they deliver too!

Other than being local if you live in Vancouver, shellfish are a darn healthy choice. Clams are low in fat, high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. They are also a rich source of potassium, and a very good source of Protein, and if you are watching the waistline, pretty low in calories. Mussels are much the same and very high in iron.

The first thing is the storage of these succulent shellfish; make sure they stay alive. They need air to breath just like you and me, so if you put them in a plastic bag and seal it and expect any to open when cooked, you will be sadly disappointed. Putting them loosely wrapped in plastic until they get home is recommended. Once there they should be fine if you just put them in wide bowls in the refrigerator.  I recommend dousing a clean tea towel with clean cold water, rubbing about a tablespoon of sea salt into it and laying loosely over the muscles and or clams.  You will be surprised to see the little creatures open up and come out of their homes if they are indeed fresh. This recipe makes plenty for two.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1 leek, cleaned well and the delicate light green part chopped into small rings, if you can’t get leeks, use red onion diced or even the white parts of green onion.

  • 1 fennel bulb, inner core removed and thinly sliced. Reserve fronds for plating.

  • Juice from one lemon

  • 4 large cloves of garlic

  • 1and 1/2 cups white wine, one with citrus on the nose works best

  • 18 hard-shelled clams – Manila are a great choice

  • 18 mussels – on the west coast look for local blue shell,

      That is unless you are lucky enough to get Atlantic on the day they are flown in.   

  • Salt and pepper to season

Scrub clams and mussels well under cold running water with a vegetable brush. Discard any broken or open shells that will not close when tapped.  That means they are dead.

In a large heavy pan with lid, heat olive oil over medium heat, add butter and leek, and cook until softened.
Stir in fennel and cook 2 minutes. Add lemon juice, garlic and wine
Season with salt and pepper.

Increase heat to bring to a full boil and add shellfish. Cover and cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until shells open. Discard any clams or mussels that do not open and ladle into bowls with the liquid.  

This is a delicious and a complete meal when served with crusty bread for dipping and a crisp salad.

Mussles and Manilla clams.jpg
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