Cooking For Engineers

Recipe File

Egg Custard with Clams

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Eggs are such a common food, that I would venture to say it is probably eaten by every race and every nationality across the globe.

Besides size classification, all the way from extra large to peewee and grade classifications from AA, A to B, they come in white, brown, fertile, free range, cage free, vegetarian diet, nutrition enhanced, which includes, but is not limited to, omega-3 , organic, pasteurized and combinations of the above. Then you have whole eggs, egg yolk or egg white in cartons already pasteurized. Conceivably, you can have peewee B brown fertile cage free vegetarian diet pasteurized organic eggs. The eggs I use here are Whole Food’s large brown cage free fertile produced without antibiotics or synthetic pesticides with a very light yolk color. The color of the egg shell is determined by the breed of the hen. Breeds with white feathers and ear lobes lay white eggs; breeds with red feathers and ear lobes lay brown eggs. Color of the yolk depends on the diet of the hen. If she gets plenty of yellow-orange plant pigments known as xanthophylls, they will be deposited in the yolk. Hens fed mashes containing yellow corn and alfalfa meal lay eggs with medium yellow yolks, while those eating wheat or barley yield lighter-colored yolks. A colorless diet, such as white cornmeal produces almost colorless yolks. Natural yellow-orange substances such as marigold petals may be added to light-colored feeds to enhance yolk color. I am as confused as anyone reading this article and dare not venture to say which egg is best for you in terms of nutritional value. Pick eggs that you are comfortable with and within your budget.


This is a very simple dish that can be prepared in a short time and tastes delicious.

Main ingredients:
4 large eggs – slightly less than 1 cup (200 g).
12 medium sized fresh little neck clams. Try to pick clams of about the same size for uniform cooking. The best way to determine the freshness of clams is by touching the clams while they have their incurrent and excurrent siphons sticking out. Freshness is determined by the speed with which they retract: the faster, the better. If no siphons are visible, touch clams that are slightly open and determine their freshness by the speed with which they close. A third way is to pick clams that are closed. (If you cannot find fresh clams, then use about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of canned ocean clam meat.)
Approximately 1-1/4 to 2-1/2 cups of canned clam juice (If you used canned clam meat instead of fresh clams, you can also use the clam juice contained in the same can.)
3 drops of vinegar. Vinegar is used to promote the binding of the egg protein with the liquid. You can skip it if you prefer not to use it, but 3 drops is not going to impart an acidic taste to the custard.
1 tablespoon of sake or cooking wine. I prefer to use sake because cooking wine found at Chinese grocery stores usually contain salt.
large pinch of white pepper. White pepper is used instead of black pepper because of its color and delicate taste. Black pepper can be substituted if dark speckle in the custard is not objectionable.
1 scallion

Equipment needed:
Fine strainer
4 heatproof bowls (about 8 oz. each) to hold the custard
whisk or egg beater
double boiler to cook the custard
mini alligator dicer to julienne the scallion – from Williams Sonoma or other home cookware stores.

Preparation:

Wash the clams and place 3 each to a bowl. If chopped clams are used, divide the clams into 4 portions and place them in the bowls. Beat eggs; add wine, white pepper and vinegar. If this is a main course, then add clam juice equal to 2 ˝ times the volume of beaten eggs. If this is an appetizer, then replace half of the clam juice with water. Strain the liquid and pour into the bowls.


Bring water in the double boiler to a boil. (Place enough water in the double boiler so that the bowls will have slight contact with the water).


Place bowls in double boiler and boil for 1 minute. Turn heat to low and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until done. Using chopped clams should cut the cooking time by a few minutes. The custard is done when you see bulging of the custard (due to the opening of the clamshells) and the custard acts like jello. For chopped clams, there will be no bulging.

Push and pull scallion carefully through the mini alligator dicer, as shown in photos. Because the blades on the alligator dicer are very sharp, care should be taken when pushing and pulling the scallion through. I recommend pushing and pulling the scallion until it is most of the way through and either cutting it off or using another piece to finish the job.




Garnish with julienned scallion.



Egg Custard with Clams (serves 4 as appetizer or main course)
12 medium sized fresh little neck clamswash, place in bowlspour into bowlscook in water bath on high heat 1 mincook in water bath on low heat approx. 20 mingarnish
4 large (200 g) eggsbeatstir togetherstrain
1 Tbs. sake
3 drops vinegar
large pinch white pepper
1-1/4 cup clam juice
1-1/4 cup clam juice (main course) or 1-1/4 cup water (appetizer)
1 scallionjulienne

George Chow loves to cook because he loves to eat good food.

Written by George Chow
Published on
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12 comments on Egg Custard with Clams:(Post a comment)

On January 13, 2007 at 04:08 AM, ChiliMania (guest) said...
Subject: Q: Clam juice?
One quick question -- would I need clam juice for the egg mix when using fresh clams?


On January 13, 2007 at 09:09 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Q: Clam juice?
ChiliMania wrote:
One quick question -- would I need clam juice for the egg mix when using fresh clams?

I'm pretty sure you would, since you need liquid in the eggs to make it into a custard consistency.


On January 13, 2007 at 03:49 PM, kayenne (guest) said...
interesting to see the use of whole clams with the shells intact in this recipe.

also interesting to note that the diet plays a big part in the yolk color. i would love to get some very pale yolks to the one that you mentioned to be almost colorless. too bad, i don't think it's available locally.


On February 15, 2007 at 12:19 AM, 2old4this (guest) said...
Subject: I can't find that broiler
I have Googled the Internet, scoured ebay and searched the tools forum here.
Nowhere can I find a double boiler that looks remotely like the one used here and certainly nothing that big.
What brand? Where can I get one?


On February 15, 2007 at 05:30 AM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: I can't find that broiler
2old4this wrote:
I have Googled the Internet, scoured ebay and searched the tools forum here.
Nowhere can I find a double boiler that looks remotely like the one used here and certainly nothing that big.
What brand? Where can I get one?

I looked at the pictures again and it looks like George is using an All-Clad French Oven roasting pan with rack insert. Technically this would be a water bath and not a double boiler - which may lead to the difficulty in finding this piece of equipment.


On February 27, 2007 at 02:32 AM, Calvin (guest) said...
About shredding the scallions, can you just push a bit through and pull the rest of the way from the other side? That just seems easier and safer...


On March 01, 2007 at 05:01 PM, George Chow said...
Subject: scallion shredding
"About shredding the scallions, can you just push a bit through and pull the rest of the way from the other side? That just seems easier and safer..."
i think what percentage you push and pull depends on the freshness of the scallions - if they are firm, it will be easier to push it through whereas if they are limp, you need to do as you described here - push a little and try pulling it out. i think it is a matter of what you are comfortable with.


On March 01, 2007 at 06:31 PM, MARY MACK (guest) said...
Subject: I used the cooking liquid from mussels
It tasted good fresh out of the steamer but dreadful cold. I think how food tastes cold when it is normally served at room temperature indicates the skill level of the cook.


On March 01, 2007 at 07:03 PM, George Chow said...
"It tasted good fresh out of the steamer but dreadful cold. I think how food tastes cold when it is normally served at room temperature indicates the skill level of the cook."
i think this dish is best to be eaten while it is still hot. if you need to re- heat it, try warming it up in a hot water bath.


On July 25, 2007 at 05:23 PM, guest (guest) said...
Subject: eggs
You note a lot of variability concerning eggs. You neglect to mention eggs of animals other than chickens. On my hobby farm I have numerous varieties of chicken, geese and turkeys. Spring brings me a wide variety of eggs, each different from the others. Small duck eggs are excellent scrambled. Goose eggs, besides being very large, have thick dark yellow yolks which take some getting used to. I have turtles and snakes around but I have yet to stumble onto their eggs.


On November 14, 2007 at 06:10 PM, Ghancock (guest) said...
Subject: just a thought
First, I would like to ask about the clams which has been troubling me ever since I notice you were using whole clams. Do the clams get to open since your covering them in a liquid and then steaming them? Or do they remain relatively closed until you get to them inside the custard?

If they remain relatively closed then I would ask:

How do you know if the clam was dead in its shell before you cooked it?

Yes, you can check for cracks or chips and clean them and such but the only true test is if they open when they are cooked.

If they are able to open before the custard sets enough to keep them closed then I whole-heartedly withdraw this objection to the recipe.

If they do not then I must mention that food-poisoning is extremely dangerous and has the possibility to be fatal. (Not normally but possible.)



As for my next mention...

Custards in general should not be reheated. It changes the consistency and quality so much that I would never suggest it.


On September 23, 2008 at 09:49 PM, pbone (guest) said...
Subject: egg custard with clams
I cannot imagine why you'd put clams in their shells into a lovely egg custard. It is near impossible to get rid of all the sand on/in the shell. Why would you wreck the velvety experience of eating a seafood custard with messy, possibly sandy shells? Are you supposed to lick your fingers and suck the shells? Sounds a little bizarre to me. What is the reason for not shucking the clams BEFORE you put them into the custard?

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