Clams Tamalli with Blistered Chile Verde Meuniere

This chile pepper is often mislabeled ‘Pasilla’, which is a different pepper entirely.It is one of the most popular chiles in Mexico and has won the appreciation of many a chef worldwide because of the superior flavor it has over regular bell peppers.

They have a tough outer skin that usually requires roasting and peeling before use. These very large chile peppers are most popular in chiles rellenos recipes, but cooking with these as a substitute for bell peppers in any recipe will enhance the flavor.

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2 cups dry white wine
2 shallots, sliced
5 garlic cloves- 2 crushed, 3 minced
3 pounds small clams in shells, scrubbed and rinsed
1 poblano chile, seeded and chopped
1 ear corn, kernels cut from the cob
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
2 cups prepared masa for tamales* (not masa for tortillas)
2 jalapeno chiles
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, chopped
Micro cilantro or amaranth sprouts (if available), or cilantro leaves
Diced red Fresno chiles


Put wine, shallots, and crushed garlic in a large pot. Set a steamer basket in pot, add clams, and cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer briskly over medium-high heat until clams open, 5 to 10 minutes.

Transfer clams to a plate and let cool. Strain broth from pot and set aside 3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. and chill. Remove meat from clams, saving 8 shells. Chill meat and shells.

Meanwhile, in a large frying pan over medium heat, sauté poblano chile, corn, and pepper in oil until chile is tender-crisp, 7 to 8 minutes. Add minced garlic. Cook, stirring, 1 minute. Remove about 2 tbsp. of mixture and set aside.

Stir masa in a bowl with 2 tbsp. reserved clam broth and 2 tbsp. water. Stir in corn mixture from pan and half of clam meat. Spoon into 8 (4- to 6-oz.) oiled ramekins and mooth tops. Cover each with foil.

Put a rack in a roasting pan and fill pan with water to just below rack. Set ramekins on rack. Cover pan tightly with foil. Heat over 2 burners on high heat until a little steam escapes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until tamales feel fairly firm, 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, cook jalapeños until blackened, turning occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool, then peel, seed, and dice.

Boil reserved 3/4 cup clam broth in a saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, 5 minutes. Stir in jalapeños. A few minutes before serving, whisk in butter a bit at a time until melted. Stir in remaining clams and heat until warm, then stir in shells.

Unwrap ramekins and put on plates. Spoon clam sauce on top and set a clamshell on each. Top with reserved poblano chile, cilantro, and Fresno chiles.

*Masa for tamales has fat, leavening, and salt added to ground corn. Find it at Latino markets.

From Sunset magazine, 2010