How to make Clams from Caldeira de Santo Cristo – São Jorge Island
Clams from Caldeira de Santo Cristo is well known and appreciated by Azoreans and visitors to the region. The Island of São Jorge is the only Azorean local where this species of clams are created. These are much larger than Portugal Mainland and have a delicious characteristic flavor that turns it into one of the most sought after dishes of the Island of São Jorge.
This species of clams, the ruditapes decussatus, is a protected species and can be found in several restaurants on the island.
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The Clams of Caldeira de Santo Cristo
The Caldeira de Santo Cristo is a fajã of the island of São Jorge and the only place where you can find the delicious clams.
The Lagoa da Fajã da Caldeira de Santo Cristo is where clams are bred. It is not known how they got there, some say it was the Canadian immigrants, while others say it was the English who took the clams to the lagoon. There are several versions for how they were there but none proven (see references at the end of the article). It is also unclear why they reproduce so easily in this place.
This Lagoon was classified as a natural reserve by the Regional Government of the Azores , mainly due to the existence of the clams on the spot and to protect them from extinction. There is much commercial interest in this species of clams, being the only one commercially exploited in the Azores.
The clams ruditapes decussatus , is a protected species and therefore there is a closed period, where there is an interdiction to conserve the species. The closed season is from May 15 to August 15. Traders usually buy them before and keep them frozen to market in high season.
The mollusk is very famous and is considered a gastronomic wonder by all who have the pleasure to try it, because it has a unique flavor and texture and characteristic of the Caldera. Many tourists and the islanders themselves enjoy this wonder in high season.
Caldeira Clams Recipe
The famous Clams of Caldeira are made to grow mouth water, so if you want to experiment in your own house we share with you a mollusk recipe to be enjoyed by you and your family.
This recipe may vary, but the aim is always to highlight the unique flavor and characteristics of this species so much appreciated in the Azores.
To make this delicious recipe you will need the following ingredients:
- 2 kg. of Clams
- 1 Onion
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 50 ml. of olive oil
- 50 ml. of vegetable oil
- 50 ml. of vinegar
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon of paprika
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 bouquet of parsley
To prepare this recipe you will need to follow the following steps:
- Leave the clams soaking for at least 2 hours with sea water or fresh water with plenty of coarse salt. During this time change the water once or twice.
- Place a pan on the heat with the oil and oil. Let it heat a little and add the chopped onion and garlic, allowing to brown. Then add the vinegar, bay leaf, pepper, paprika, cumin and salt.
- Wash the clams very well under running water and then place them in the pan.
- Keep the pan closed and shake from time to time until the clams are all open.
- When ready remove the heat and add the chopped parsley. Let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.
Extra tip: For a better taste leave the clams soaking in plenty of cold water with salt for about three or four hours. Before preparing, iron them under cold running water. Drain them again and set aside for preparation.
The Clams of Caldeira are a unique species in the Azores and for having a fantastic flavor, it is much sought after by tourists who visit the island and by the inhabitants of the archipelago.
When visiting the Island of São Jorge you should not fail to taste this typical dish of the island.
- Quem terá introduzido as amêijoas na Caldeira da Fajã de Santo Cristo?
by Aristides Silva (Técnico de Pescas)