Surf Clams with Nduja & Sherry

Perhaps one of the best things to come out of the pandemic is that fantastic quality Irish seafood is now more accessible thanks to online fishmongers, like The Gannet in Galway.

Perhaps one of the best things to come out of the pandemic is that fantastic quality Irish seafood is now more accessible thanks to online fishmongers, like The Gannet in Galway.

I was well into my adult years before I learned that fish and shellfish are seasonal too. I always knew the old adage about never eating oysters in a month without an R in it, and such things as salmon season, but I never really understood that many fish were migratory and then of course there are the times of year we shouldn’t touch some stocks of fish at all because of spawning season.

I didn’t really start eating fish until I met my husband, Mr Flavour. He grew up beach casting, river fishing, digging for razor clams and trailing a line off the back of a little sail boat his dad used to have. I didn’t. My formative years of fish eating were fish fingers, salmon paste in jars (remember those, urgh), frozen fillets of plaice in crispy breadcrumbs, and the annual prawn cocktail at Christmas time.

Fast forward to the past decade, and I have developed a full blown love affair with fish. So much of what is caught off our shores goes to other nations, so despite being surrounded by ocean, it’s not always possible to get good quality fish. Even here in West Cork, pre-pandemic, getting super fresh fish meant at minimum a 45 minute drive; else there was the English Market in the city – a mere two hour round trip for me!

But with the pandemic came a need for fishmongers to find more customers when the restaurant trade closed down, and easier ways for people to access fish and to get it to their customers. We are so fortunate now to have access to those fantastic fishmongers, such as The Gannet Fishmongers in Galway and Glenmar Shellfish in Union Hall, Cork, who used to only trade from a physical building to trading online and getting exceptional fresh fish to our doorstep in less than 24 hours. It’s a revelation indeed!

I recently placed an order with the Gannet because I saw they had clams for sale. I love clams. The first time I ever had them was when I followed a recipe for Linguine Vongole (linguine with clams) by Nigella Lawson, but they are tricky to source. So I jumped at the chance to buy a kilo of surf clams; and then realised that I should be avoiding gluten at the moment (long story, I won’t bore you), so what else to do with them…?

Like so many of my recipes, it starts with a good dose of curiosity and a rummage! I had nduja in the fridge – nduja is a spicy hot spreadable salami from Italy and super versatile. I had a suspicion clams and nduja would be great together, so I went from there!

You can use any kind of sherry, or even a red vermouth – particularly Valentia Island Vermouth – for this if you don’t have sherry at all.

Surf Clams with Nduja & Sherry – Kate Ryan,


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large white onion, halved and sliced into half moons
  • 125 ml sherry (I used Amontillado Jerez-Xi Res Sherry)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, smashed, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp nduja
  • 1 kg clams, washed and checked over, discard any that won’t close when tapped (you can substitute with mussels)
  • Sea salt, a good pinch
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Large handful of chopped parsley


Heat the oil in a stock pot or large, deep saucepan over a medium-high heat.

Add onions and sherry, stir then cover with lid and allow to sweat for 5 minutes.

Remove lid, add garlic and nduja, stir rapidly to break down the nduja. Replace the lid, cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add washed clams. Stir everything to combine. Add a splash of water. Clamp on the lid, turn up the heat and cook until the clams begin to open.

Add lemon juice, a good pinch of sea salt, and parsley. Stir to combine everything then tip out into a large warmed bowl or platter that’s good for sharing. Garnish with extra parsley and lemon wedges.

I served this with a simple raw courgette, lemon and chili salad. You can get my original recipe for this HERE.


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