A basic definition for tajine is below:

A tajine or tagine is a historically Berber dish from North Africa that is named after the type of earthenware pot in which it is cooked. The traditional method of cooking with a tajine is to place the tajine over coals. A traditional tajine pot consists of two parts: a base unit that is flat and circular with low sides and a large cone- or dome-shaped cover that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom.

By using this definition, “two parts, bottom is circular with low sides and a dome shaped cover,” we can infer that a hard shell clam makes the perfect natural tajine pot. Using clam shells as miniature tajine pots, we created BBQ clams “tajine-style.”

Our version uses hard shell clams that are cooked over a hot fire. Setting them over a bed of salt keeps them from sliding in the pan when moving them. The clams cook up in their juices with fresh herbs, hot pepper slices, and whole butter. They are finished with a splash of white wine vinaigrette. Since they will be served tableside, ensure the shells are scrubbed well before opening and shucking. 

Serve the Clams Tajine-Style by themselves as an appetizer, or atop fresh greens for a salad. The basic recipe and procedure is below. Experiment with your favorite herbs and spices.

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Clams, "Tajine-Style"

Great little appetizer, these clams are cooked in their own natural cooking vessels.

Ingredients

  • Hard shelled clams, shucked, keeping all shells
Toppings
  • Whole butter pats
  • Slices of red hot peppers (for less heat, scrap the seeds out first)
  • Fresh herbs: Italian flat leaf parsley, basil, marjoram
  • White Wine Vinaigrette (canola oil, white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, Dijon mustard)
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Before shucking clams, scrub the shells well to clean them.
  2. Lay the shucked clams, still in their bottom shells, on a layer of Kosher or rock salt that is placed in a bbq-proof pan (cast iron works well). The salt will keep them from shifting when moving the pan from grill to table.
  3. Top each with a pat of whole butter, herbs, and a pinch of salt.
  4. Cover each clam with the matching shell.
  5. Place over flames in a charcoal or wood bbq. Cook until the clams are done, taking care to watch the shells. They may "pop" during cooking, which is natural, but take care of flying shells. It is helpful to cover the clams during cooking with the bbq lid.
  6. Remove the clams from the bed of salt, and drizzle with a spot of white wine vinaigrette, and fresh black pepper if desired.
  7. Serve.
John’s motto is ‘release it unharmed or do it justice on the plate.’ Executive Chef, photographer, and surfer, John photographs ocean marine life when he’s out fishing, and creates masterpieces in the kitchen with what he keeps on deck. His photo works have been used in OEHHA Fish Advisories, National Geographic presentations, and nonprofit marine life groups. When he’s not fishing, he’s making great BBQ. Visit him at johnsheltondesigns.com, and send him a message using the contact form using the link above.