|Amêijoas Na Cataplana
Pepe's Wharf Restaurant
Astrid Berg, Executive Chef
Last minute note: Pepe's Wharf, starting spring 1999, will be host to Dancing Lobster Restaurant.
In Portugal, cataplana refers to the hinged pan resembling a clam shell, used to prepare and serve a wonderful dish from the Alentejo region of Portugal, consisting of tender little clams (they are smaller and thinner shelled than ours) punctuated with cubes of pork and spicy sausages. In Provincetown, cataplana is the signature dish at Pepe's Wharf Restaurant.
Pepe's Wharf, established in 1967 by Eva K. Berg and her late husband Nils in what used to be a trap boat shed, is one of Provincetown's most elegant restaurants. This sumptuous dish of little neck clams was developed by the late Howard Mitcham when he was head chef at Pepe's Wharf. Although Nils Berg and Howard Mitcham are no longer with us, Eva Berg and her daughter Astrid have kept the tradition alive.
Astrid Berg, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, is the executive chef at Pepe's Wharf. Although Chef Astrid has changed Pepe's menu as the times and palates dictate, she has retained the cataplana. This deceptively simple, yet elegant feast of clams, flavored with linguiça, chouriço and fresh aromatic vegetables is one dish making Pepe's Wharf one of Provincetown's premier restaurants.
24 little neck clams
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup linguiça, diced
1/4 cup chouriço, diced
2 strips bacon, fried and crumbled
1/4 cup onions, chopped
1/4 cup scallions (the green part), chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
2 tbsp. freshly chopped parsley
1/4 cup fresh tomato, diced
1/4 cup molho tomate (recipe to follow)
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups fish stock or clam juice
1/4 tsp. black pepper
Tabasco to taste
Scrub the clams and set aside.
Melt the butter and sauté the linguiça and chouriço until lightly browned. Add the bacon, onions, scallion, garlic, green pepper, parsley, fresh tomato and black pepper, stirring frequently until the vegetables are limp. Take care not to burn the vegetables. Add the wine and scrape up any particles sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Add the molho and Tabasco, gingerly. (Howard Mitcham loved Tabasco more than the average person. Go easy at first). Place the clams on top of the sauce. Add the fish stock, cover the pan and cook until the clams have opened. Discard any clams that haven't opened.
When the clams are cooked, transfer them to a deep soup bowl. Pour the sauce over the clams. Stop pouring when there is about one-half cup of sauce still in the pan. That sauce will contain any sand that was still in the clams.
Garnish with more freshly chopped parsley and several large croutons to soak up the sauce.
1 large can Italian plum tomatoes
3 medium onions, sliced thin
1 green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup red wine
1 cup water
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. crushed cumin seeds
1 pinch each basil, thyme and crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Sauté the onion, peppers and garlic in the olive oil. Do not brown. Add the rest of the ingredients, pulverizing the tomatoes as you add them. Bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for one to two hours.
Save the left over sauce for another use.