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Feast of the two fishes for an easy Christmas Eve

Soft-shell clams need only be steamed, hence their

Soft-shell clams need only be steamed, hence their name: steamers. Photo Credit: Barbara Alper

Some of you are doubtless scrambling to put together a piscatory feast for Christmas Eve. Zealous cooks will honor the number of apostles with 12 fish courses, while merely ambitious cooks will honor the number of sacraments with seven.

Lazy cooks, this is for you: two easy-as-cake seafood recipes, one for steamers, one for baked salmon.

EXTREMELY BASIC STEAMERS

2 to 3 pounds steamers

Melted butter or good olive oil

1. Put the clams in a big bowl of cold water and swish them around. Lift them out of the water so that any grit falls to the bottom of the bowl.

2. Gently transfer the clams in a 12-inch skillet — they should fit in one layer — and add about ¼ cup of water. Lay a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil on top of the skillet, and the lid on top of that (for a tight seal). Turn the heat to medium-high and let the clams cook for about 7 minutes, until they have opened and firmed up ever so slightly.

3. Gently transfer the clams to a serving bowl. Drain the steaming liquid through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a small bowl. Serve this broth with the clams and use it to rinse the clams of any remaining sand. If you can’t be bothered to melt butter, serve the clams with good olive oil. Makes 4 appetizer servings.

ROASTED SALMON STEAKS WITH HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE

This recipe is adapted from Leslie Revsin’s “Great Fish, Quick” (Broadway Books, 1997)

6 tablespoons prepared honey mustard (such as Honeycup)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1½ tablespoons soy sauce

1½ teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger

1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped

4 salmon steaks, each 1¼ inch at the thickest part

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together mustard, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and garlic. Set aside. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to a month.)

2. Lightly oil bottom of baking pan. Season steaks lightly with salt and more heavily with pepper; place in pan. Smear the top of each steak with a tablespoon of sauce. Roast 8 to 12 minutes for each inch of thickness, until the flesh looks opaque when pierced with a sharp knife. (With salmon, a little underdone is often desirable.) Top steaks with more sauce, if desired. Makes 4 servings.

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