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Steam Clams And Mussels With Beer For A Burst Of Flavor

skillet of steamed mussels and bottles of beer
skillet of steamed mussels and bottles of beer - Connerscott1/Getty Images

The ushering in of warm weather is marked by seafood boils and sips of chilled beer by the water. Nothing is better than enjoying freshly cooked mussels and clams, but they can easily be upgraded with a splash of beer. The shellfish already have a sweet, briny flavor that's enjoyed by itself or with simple additions like lemon juice or garlic butter. While these taste great, the subtle flavor of beer fares much better with shellfish.

Creamy and with a subtle earthiness, beer infuses the clams and mussels with wheaty notes while embracing the natural sweetness of the seafood. Bearing such a delicate flavor, clams and mussels should be steamed in milder liquids like broth, white wine, or beer that can subtly infuse the shellfish without completely dominating it.

Before steaming your clams and mussels, quickly simmer minced shallots and garlic in olive oil before deglazing the pot with beer. Once it's been brought to a boil with a few herbs and spices, drop the shellfish inside. Simmer the bivalves in the broth for less than 10 minutes, or until they start to open up. For a much subtler beer flavor, cook your mussels and clams in a steaming basket over the pot to more gently infuse the seafood with the delicate aroma of beer.

Read more: The 20 Best Olive Oils For Cooking

What Kind Of Beer Should You Steam Shellfish In?

Seven different types of beer in glasses
Seven different types of beer in glasses - Valentyn Volkov/Shutterstock

Since clams and mussels are on the lighter side, they'll need a lighter type of beer to match their mildness. Sticking with the best beer styles for summer is the key to ensuring your steamed shellfish always turn out right. These beers are characterized by crisp, bright brews that enhance the flavors of clams and mussels. A simple light lager is the no-frills, wheat beer that your shellfish needs.

With such a straightforward taste, the beer gives you room to spruce up the broth with herbs and aromatics that don't interfere with its flavor. If you've never steamed shellfish with beer before, stick with a classic Budweiser or Miller Lite for your first introduction to it. Going with citrusy beers is also a great pick for shellfish. Mussels and clams love the zest of orange and lemon, and a Belgian witbier is perfect for that. It has a bright, orange peel taste that's bolstered with the subtle spice of coriander, lending the shellfish a whole lot of flavor.

Smoothie sour beers have a more intense fruitiness to them if you're looking for that with your steamed clams and mussels. They infuse the shellfish with a bright flavor, but also a creaminess thanks to the lactose. Whichever beer you pick, avoid ones that are too heavy, dark, or boldly-flavored. The goal is to make a subtle, pleasant broth to slurp down along with the seafood -- like in this Portuguese New England clam boil dish.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.