Chocolate Clams and Salsa

  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 50 min
  • Prep: 30 min
  • Cook: 20 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped 

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Ground Flag Salsa:

4 tomatoes, seeded and diced

1 serrano chile, seeded and diced

1 onion, diced

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped 

A touch olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos):

1/4 cup lard (pork fat)

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 chipotle pepper, seeded and diced

About 3 cups cooked black beans

Salt and freshly ground black pepper 

2 pounds/1 kg chocolate clams in shells

Lime wedges, to garnish


  1. For the dressing: Put the mayonnaise, mustard, cilantro, onions and jalapeno in the recipient of a blender and pulse until creamy. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. For the salsa: In a bowl, mix the tomatoes, chile, onions, lime zest and juice, cilantro and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. If you like things spicier, put everything through a meat grinder, or a blender, and grind it up. Keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  3. For the refried beans: Heat the lard in a heavy frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and chipotle pepper and continue sauteing for 1 minute. 
  4. Add a ladle of cooked beans and, using a masher, start mashing the beans. Once the first spoonful of beans has been mashed completely, keep adding more beans and repeating the process. The unique taste of refried beans occurs as a result of slowly frying the starches inside the beans in the lard, so you want to add the beans a little bit at a time, to make sure they all get good and fried. 
  5. Once all the beans have been mashed, add a little bean liquid or water, until you get the texture that you want. Keep it a bit looser than you eventually want, as they will continue to firm up as they cool off the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm. 
  6. For the clams: Scrub them under cool running water. Discard any gaping clams that don't close when cleaned. 
  7. Set the clams on a BBQ grill over a solid bed of hot coals or over high heat on a gas grill. Close the lid on the gas grill. Cook the clams until they pop open, 6 to 8 minutes. 
  8. Serve with a spoonful of the dressing, the salsa and refried beans. Garnish with lime wedges.

Cook’s Note

The Mexican chocolate clam, so-called for its brown-colored shell, is the largest West Coast bivalve. Reaching up to 6 inches across, the clams are very popular all along the coast of Central America. If Mexican chocolate clams are unavailable at your local store, you can use any other high-quality clams (still in their shells).

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