The City Magazine Since 1975

Pickled Clams & Fennel Salad

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For the clams:  
3 doz. littleneck clams
1/2 bulb fennel, fronds reserved
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Bragg apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. fennel seed
1/8 tsp. anise seed
1/8 tsp. coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
1/2 bulb fennel, fronds reserved
5 cloves garlic, peeled
1 Tbs., plus 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tangerines, one zested and juiced
2½ Tbs. apple cider vinegar (Bragg brand recommended)
1/4 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. chopped tarragon
1 tsp. chopped chives
2 Tbs. honey
1/4 cup canola oil
3 small radishes
1/2 red onion


Using a clam knife, shuck clams, saving liquor, and store both together in a bowl. Using a mandolin, shave half of fennel bulb thinly. Reserve other half. Add shaved fennel to the clams.
For the pickling liquid, combine next 10 ingredients in a small stainless steel saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer uncovered for five minutes. Remove from heat and let stand five minutes. Pour pickling liquid over clams and fennel. Cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 325°F.
For the vinaigrette, lightly toss fennel and four cloves of garlic with teaspoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Tightly wrap them in a sheet of aluminum foil and roast until very soft, about one hour. Place roasted fennel, garlic, and any juices into a blender. Finely mince remaining clove of garlic. Add garlic to blender, along with juice and zest of one tangerine, cider vinegar, mustard, tarragon, chives, and honey. Blend on medium, slowly drizzling in canola oil, and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble dish, use a mandolin to shave radishes and onion very thin. Using a knife, cut away peel and segment other tangerine. Drain pickled clams and fennel and place them in a bowl. Remove seeds from pickled clams. Add radishes and onion and lightly season with salt and pepper. Dress with vinaigrette. Place on a plate and garnish with tangerine segments and fennel fronds.