Clams, Smoked Potato Puree & Cucumber

By James Ramsden •

A dish that makes the most of the season's new potatoes like Jersey Royals. Try smoking them to make a beautiful puree.

Photo by Alex Henderson 

More smoke this week, though more Heath Robinson-style smoking than anything more technical. A big wok is perhaps your best bet when it comes to this kind of smoking. You’ll need a wire rack that fits inside the wok and a lid that goes snugly on top.
Is this getting too complicated? In that case, don’t bother with the smoking. You can stick to unsmoked potato puree and add a pinch of smoked salt to help it along, but the dish will be lovely without the smoke.
Initially it was meant to be with skate cheeks, lovely little scallop-like collops of pearly meat that are cheap to buy and easy to cook. But I couldn’t find them for love nor indeed money, so clams stepped into the breach.
There are a few components to this dish, as you can see, but it’s all simple, promise.  If you can’t get hold of oyster leaf, use baby spinach instead.

Clams, smoked potato puree, cucumber, oyster leaf and smoked cod’s roe

Photo by Alex Henderson 

Serves 4


For the cucumber ash
1 cucumber

For the potatoes
150g baby new potatoes
75g butter, cubed
Wood chips
Salt and pepper 
For the charred cucumber
The above cucumber
A splash of grapeseed or groundnut oil

For the clams
Olive oil
White wine
300g clams, cleaned
A small handful of parsley, finely chopped

You will also need
Oyster leaf
Smoked cod’s roe, kept in the freezer for 2 hours

For the cucumber ash: preheat the oven to 100C. Peel the cucumber and lay the peelings on a lightly oiled baking tray. Dry in the oven for 2 hours. Put a dry frying pan over a high heat and char the skins until completely blackened. Remove and cool completely, then whiz with a pinch of salt in a mini blender.

For the potatoes: steam the new potatoes in a wok until tender (about 20-30 minutes). Drain the water from the wok and put it back on the heat. Line the base with foil and tip in a good handful of wood chips.

When it starts to smoke, put the rack on top with the potatoes and cover with a lid. Once truly smoky, take off the heat and leave, with the lid on, for another 5 minutes.

Mash the spuds and pass through a sieve into a saucepan. Beat in the butter over a low heat along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
For the charred cucumber: Halve the peeled cucumber down the middle and scoop out the seeds. Cut the flesh into diagonal pieces. Heat a splash of oil in the same pan you charred the skins in, and hard-fry the cucumber until well blackened. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
For the clams: Heat a splash of olive oil over a high heat, and add a good slosh of white wine. Boil for a couple of minutes, then add the clams. Cover and cook for 5 minutes until they’ve all opened, then stir in the parsley.
To serve: Put a blob of smoked potatoes on each plate. Top with a piece of charred cucumber and a few clams. Grate over some smoked cod’s roe. Garnish with oyster leaf and cucumber ash, and serve. 

Photo by Alex Henderson
Inspired?  For more delicious Jersey Royal potato recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.



James Ramsden

James Ramsden is a food writer and broadcaster. He has written about food and cookery for the Guardian, the Times, the FT, delicious., Sainsbury's Magazine, London Evening Standard and many others, and presents the Lad that Lunches on BBC Radio 1. His supper club, the Secret Larder, is one of the most popular in London and was described by one journalist as "harder to get into than the Ivy."

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