3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup bottled clam juice
1 small red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 preserved lemon (recipe follows), diced
3 lb. clams, scrubbed well
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or coriander leaves
1 tsp. lemon juice
6 lemon wedges
1/2 cup kosher salt
2 cinnamon sticks
4 bay leaves
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, as needed
Heat a large frying pan over high heat. Add olive oil, water, clam juice, onion, garlic and parsley. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer slowly for 5 minutes. Add preserved lemon and clams and simmer, covered, until clams open, 3 to 5 minutes. As clams open, remove them from the pan and place in a bowl. When all clams have opened, add salt, pepper, cilantro and lemon juice to taste. Add clams and accumulated juice and toss well. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve immediately, warm or at room temperature.
For preserved lemons: Wash lemons and cut each into quarters from the top to within 1/2 inch of the bottom, leaving the 4 quarters joined at the stem end. Sprinkle insides of lemons liberally with salt.
Place 1 tbsp. salt on the bottom of a canning jar and pack in lemons, pushing them down and adding more salt as you go. Add cinnamon sticks and bay leaves between lemons. If there isn't enough juice from the lemons, add extra, freshly squeezed juice to bring the level up to the top of the jar, leaving approximately 1/2 inch of airspace. Close jar.
Let lemons sit in a warm place for 3 weeks. Turn jar upside down occasionally to distribute salt and juices evenly.
To use lemons, remove from brine and discard pulp. Wash peels before using them. Some white crystals will form on the top of the lemons in the jar; this is normal. The lemons will keep, unrefrigerated, for 1 year.
Adapted and reprinted with permission from "From Tapas to Meze," by Joanne Weir, copyright 2004, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Photo by Caren Alpert.