Clams and Rice Served in the Shell

Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is known for its seafood and shellfish—the oysters of Ston are justifiably legendary—and its restaurants all serve variations of “shells salad.” None that I ate, though, were as enticing as one this clams and rice dish I have adapted from the locally published Croatian Cookbook by Nikica Gamulin Gama. Use different sizes and types of clams, cockles, even mussels and scallops; just be sure to have some large-sized ones to stuff. Serve these clams and rice as an appetizer with a bottle of chilled white wine or rosé on a warm day.–Jeff Koehler

Clams and Rice Served in the Shell Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 30 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 4


  • 3 pounds assorted clams, including some large-sized ones, purged of sand (see Note)
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup short- or medium-grain rice
  • 8 black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 8 green olives, pitted and chopped
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper


  • 1. Fill a pot 1/2- to 1-inch deep with water and add the clams. Bring to a boil, cover, and steam until the clams have opened, about 5 minutes. Drain the clams and transfer to a platter to cool, discarding any that did not open.
  • 2. Without breaking the hinges of the clams, remove the meat. Reserve the largest shells. Chop the meatier clams into pieces; leave the smaller ones whole.
  • 3. Meanwhile, in another pot, bring an abundant amount of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt and the rice, and boil until al dente, 15 to 18 minutes. Drain the rice, rinse briefly under cold water, and drain again.
  • 4. In a medium bowl, combine the clams and rice and olives. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Mix carefully.
  • 5. Spoon the rice into the larger reserved shells and serve on a platter.

    Note: To purge clams of sand, dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in 4 cups of cool water. Add a few drops of vinegar and let the clams soak for 30 minutes. Change the water, add more salt, and soak for another 30 minutes. Drain, rinse well with fresh water, and drain again.
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