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Galley Gourmet By Bill Shaw

Head Over Heels for Mollusk Meals As the sounds of the cannon fire and taps signal the lowering of Roche Harbor’s flags of during our last colors ceremony of the summer, we say goodbye to our guests, seasonal staff, and all the warm memories that made for a great summer in the San Juans. The days are shorter and the nights are a little colder, but for me, October is my favorite month of all. Things slow down a bit and allow me to reflect on the menus of the summer and look forward to savory stews, braised lamb shanks, roasted winter squashes, and the comfort foods we all enjoy. I recently headed out the door at sunrise to the calming sound of a distant foghorn, my drive to work less than calm as I navigated through the thick fog and startled deer to Roche Harbor. On my way into work, I stopped at Westcott Bay Shellfish to pick up some clams and oysters for the evening service. Westcott Bay grows Manila clams or Japanese littleneck clams, which migrated here on bottoms of sailing ships amongst the barnacles and mussels. These chubby little clams are known for their meat-to-shell ratio, tender bite, and sweet taste. They


make a perfect steamed clam with butter, fresh herbs, garlic, and white wine; and when making chowder, these are the only clams you should use. I have always known that the Northwest is a great place to grow shellfish, but it wasn’t until I visited Europe on my 50 th birthday with my wife Rose that I realized that the Puget Sound is the shellfish basket of the world. I was amazed how frequently our shellfish farms appeared on menus in Europe. This month I wanted to explore these famous little mollusks and share a few recipes that you can enjoy with your friends and family while cruising, tied up to the dock, or at home by a warm fire. Bill Shaw is the head chef of Roche Harbor Resort and Marina of San Juan Island. Shaw has worked at Roche since 1993. He loves utilizing local ingredients and takes full advantage of the area’s seasonal goods.

Roche Harbor Clam Chowder Serves 6 (12-ounce servings)

When I first arrived a Roche Harbor, the Dungeness Bisque was the only soup we served. The pictured clam chowder recipe, added in 1994, was inspired by the fresh herbs we were getting from Nootka Rose Farm on Waldron Island and, of course, the fresh Manila clams from our neighbor Westcott Bay Shellfish. I prefer to use fresh herbs, but dry herbs can be substituted with decreasing the recipe amount by half. Have fun with this recipe by adding fresh salmon, spot prawns, and Dungeness crab for an amazing seafood chowder, best served with warm crusty sourdough bread.

8 ounces red potatoes, skin on, diced ½”, cooked al dente 4 ounces bacon, sliced 1⁄8” ½ cup butter ¾ cup celery, chopped ¼” ¾ cup onion, chopped ¼” 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped ½ cup all purpose flour 2 Tablespoons clam base, no MSG 10 ounces clam nectar 5 ounces canned surf clams, chopped in juice (juice reserved)

1 quart half and half ½ teaspoon black pepper Pinch white pepper, ground 1 teaspoon fresh basil 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram 1 teaspoon fresh dill 1 teaspoon fresh thyme 1 each bay leaf 2 pounds live local clams, washed, steamed, and removed from shell ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped

Directions: In a saucepan, bring 1 quart of water to boil and add red potatoes. Reduce heat to bring potatoes to a slow rolling boil. Remove from heat when potatoes are firm to the bite without any crunch. Set aside. Heat a 4-quart heavy bottom sauce pan over medium-high heat, add bacon and cook until 50 percent of bacon fat is rendered, then add butter. When butter is melted, add celery, onion, and garlic. Continue cooking and stirring until the vegetables are cooked al dente. Reduce heat to medium and add flour. Stir flour into vegetable and bacon mixture until flour is combined into mixture. Continue stirring and turning mixture for 10 minutes. Meanwhile dissolve clam base into clam nectar. Add clam nectar, clam base, and reserved clam juice into the roux and vegetable mixture. Stir to incorporate fully. Add half and half, black pepper, white pepper, basil, marjoram, dill, thyme, and bay leaf. Continue stirring chowder and slowly bring the temperature up to 185 degrees, then add cooked potatoes, chopped clams, whole clams, and parsley. Reduce heat and hold chowder at 140 degrees until ready to serve.


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