Grilled Clams in Tequila Broth

This recipe uses ingredients that were being employed and enjoyed by our Texas Indian ancestors long before 1400.  Archeologists have been able to determine that clams along the coastal bays were harvested most heavily from mid-April to late-July.  They were sometimes steamed in earth ovens lined with shells, but they were also cooked and smoked over hot rocks. (Dial, Black, Ricklis, Weinstein & ….Smith, 2009)

In this Texas Mexican recipe I grill the clams over an open Pecan wood fire. Then I toss them in a broth that combines Tequila with the juice of tomatoes and onions.  Mexican oregano finishes the dish with  an aromatic flair. 
The grilled, smoked elotes (corn) in the background make an excellent accompaniment.  That’s a party!

Recipe (serves 4 as an appetizer)

12 clams, washed and scrubbed
2 fluid ounces good quality white tequila.
2 Roma tomatoes, small dice
1 1/2 Tbsp white onion, minced
1 Tbsp Mexican Oregano, minced
1/4 tsp salt

1.  Light a small fire using Pecan wood. I use small pieces or logs of wood (10″) so you can control the heat.  To ignite them, use little balls of paper towels soaked in vegetable oil if you don’t have kindling.  When coals form, distribute them such that you have a hot zone (you can hold your hand over the coals no more than 3 seconds) and a less hot zone (5 seconds).

  • Alternately, use store-bought charcoal or your gas or electric grill.  I suggest adding some Pecan wood chips soaked in water if you can.  The smoke really infuses a wonderful taste dimension.

2. Place the tequila, tomatoes, onion, oregano and salt in a saucepan.  Place it over the low heat zone until the onions and tomatoes get soft and a juicy broth forms.  Meanwhile, relax and enjoy a beer.

3. Place the scrubbed clams directly on the grill on the hot zone.  In about five minutes the clams will start to pop open and as they do they’ll absorb the pecan smoke flavor.

4. Using a spatula or a large spoon, remove the clams from the smoke and place them in the tequila broth, tossing them slightly to combine all the ingredients.  The shells will be very hot and help to cook the vegetables further in the clam juice.

5. At this point you can hold them warm on the grill until you are ready to serve them with a nice crusty bread.  Invite me to your party!

¡Buen Provecho!


Dial, S., Black, S., Ricklis, R., Weinstein, R., & .Smith, S. (2009, Spring). Texas beyond history, shellfish. Retrieved from



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