Shellfish Ragout on Buttered Spinach

easy shellfish ragout recipe

You know I read somewhere that shellfish release their own broth when heated and therefore end up cooking themselves.

Steamers, mussels, clams, cockles, lobsters…all of them. It said just add oil to the pot and cook covered.


I’ve always added wine, broth, water…something when steaming shellfish. How else would they open??  I didn’t believe this logic one bit so I decided to test this theory out.

I hit up Whole Foods, picked up a bag of mussels, some big ass clams, a couple bottles of clam juice (in case this was all an exercise in wasting time and they needed a supporting liquid afterall) and headed home to experiment.

All the while thinking, since when can you cook these things with heat and NOT have to add some kind of liquid and bring to a boil?

 Since today baby.

Since right now.



Shellfish Ragout on Buttered Spinach

What I Used

1 bag Mussels (or ~ 40 mussels). 1 dozen large clams. 2 tbsp Shallots. 3/4 Scallions. A few Thyme Sprigs. 12oz Spinach. Butter. Olive Oil. Salt. Pepper.

What I did

Right after you scrub the clams and beard the mussels…


Add them separately, each to its own pot containing 2 tbsp Olive Oil, 1 tbsp minced shallots and a sprig of Thyme.

Just add clams..

Then I covered each pot, only opening them occasionally to stir and waited for this theory to pan out.


Holy shit!! It’s actually working!!


In about 5 mins, the mussels opened and after 10 mins, the big ass clams opened.

IMG_20140503_161309_1 IMG_20140503_162254_1

Without any added seasonings, they tasted DIVINE. I was popping mussels in my mouth left and fucking right.

Then it hit me… The natural broth from the mussels and clams would make a great Ragout.

Fucking Genius!

So first remove the mussels and clams from their shells, roughly chopping the clams into smaller pieces, reserving a few shells for later.


Strain each of their broths through a fine sieve, reserving 1/3 of the liquid and return the mussels and clams to their remaining individual broth.

Then in a sauce pan, melt 1 tbsp butter over med heat, add 2 tbsp julienned scallions and cook for 3 mins.

Note: If you are using unsalted butter, then season with salt & pepper.

When the scallions are tender, add the reserved broth and bring to a boil.

Then, whisking constantly, add 5 tbsp of butter, one at a time.

When the butter is fully incorporated, lower the heat and add the mussels and clams to the sauce to warm them and stir in 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice.

Note: Be sure to strain the mussels and clams from the broth they were resting in before you add them to the sauce.

Lastly, melt 1 tbsp butter in a med pot and wilt the spinach.


Divide the shellfish into a reserved clam shell, spooning the sauce over each and serve on top of the spinach.

easy shellfish ragout recipe

easy shellfish ragout recipeShellfish Ragout IMG_20140503_172214_1

This isn’t very healthy due to all the butter but who cares?!

Don’t forget about the spinach now.



I’m submitting this post into the May edition of Our Growing Edge because who knew shellfish released enough of their own broth to properly cook them and still taste delicious.

Who fucking knew?!!

This month, Our Growing Edge is hosted by Eva from Kitchen Inspirations

18 thoughts on “Shellfish Ragout on Buttered Spinach

  1. I wish I could eat clams, mussels, oysters, etc, but I cannot 😦 They make me ill. This looks so good though! Eat extra for me!

  2. Lovely plating. I love me some shellfish.

    Here in New Zealand, we throw a kilo or two of mussels on the grill with a splash of the beer in our hand and let them hang out for a bit. The beer isn’t really for steam, more for fun and flavour.

    I should try it without water though. I bet it intensifies the flavours right?

    1. Oh nice! Cooking with beer is on my bucket list so I may give that a try.
      Letting them create their own broth gives them a natural flavor that contains the right amount of everything.

      Its kinda hard to put in words. Its like the difference between drinking water from a spring and drinking purified water.
      I really hope you try it this way. I’m very curious to get another opinion.


      1. I actually think my parents cook shellfish in their own juices. The way they did it was just steam them open and when they were done, they went on a platter. Then we would pour a little soy sauce into a half shell and use that as a dipping bowl. Very simple but seems a waste not to use that juice for something.

  3. I love this photo essay. Great presentation of the final dish. I know it’s getting warmer here in Australia but that’s no excuse not to try seafood. Might head to the markets and give this a shot 🙂

Go on, get it out..

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