I grew up working in a sort of broken-down clam bar on Long Island’s Great South Bay. One summer we took over the adjoining fish market—we just knocked a big hole in the wall with sledgehammers to connect the two spaces—and in the rubble I found a stack of old promotional recipe cards with instructions for the original Kraft Music Hall Clam Dip, which reportedly caused a shortage of canned clams in Manhattan the moment it was published in the 1950s. I replaced canned clams with fresh steamers, Worcestershire with some funky Roman-style garum. It was actually amazing, especially after letting the chilled and mixed ingredients mingle for a while. —Hugh Merwin
- 18 littleneck or topneck clams, steamed in 1/4 cup of water, cooled, and shucked
- 6 T clam cooking liquid
- + juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 t kosher salt
- 1/2 t garum or Thai fish sauce
- 4 dashes Angostura bitters
- 8 oz good-quality cream cheese
- + white pepper, to taste
- + sturdy potato chips, for serving
Combine clams, cooking liquid, lemon juice, salt, garum or fish sauce, and bitters in a food processor. Pulse until clams are rough-chopped and ingredients are blended.
Add cream cheese and pulse, occasionally scraping down sides of food processor with spatula, until everything is smooth. Add white pepper to taste. Clam dip is best after it sits, refrigerated, for a few hours. Serve with sturdy potato chips.