The photo of the bacon dashi with potatoes and clams is probably my least favourite photo in the whole book. It’s not photographer Gabriele Stabile’s fault. It’s those damn fingerling potatoes, they’re just so obscene. For those of you with the book, I draw your attention to the potato in the clam…shell on the left side of the bowl. Doesn’t that look off? I don’t have a problem with how fingerlings taste (they taste quite good), but I just can’t stand their strangely elongated gnarly shapes.
Needless to say, I didn’t use fingerling potatoes in my bacon dashi with potatoes and clams and (for once) it wasn’t because I couldn’t find the ingredient. I used new potatoes instead, which are much prettier. This dish rocked: the sweetness of the clams, the smokiness of the bacon and the creaminess of the potatoes were simple and satisfying. I could eat bowls and bowls of it, but really, I think I could eat bowls and bowls of just potatoes boiled in bacon dashi (as long as they’re not fingerlings).
Potatoes used to be my favourite food. (They’re still one of my favourites, just not the favourite). Back in university I used to eat baked mashed potatoes for dinner. Nothing else, just mashed potatoes baked to get that lovely crunchy top. Potatoes truly are a wonder vegetable: so versatile, so delicious. I love them mashed, baked, fried, french-fried, scalloped, boiled, roasted, and hash-browned. I like them just about any way, except steamed. Boiling them in bacon dashi is one of the ultimate preparations, I think. When you boil potatoes in bacon dashi, their soft, creamy insides are infused with bacon dashi goodness.
The clams were tasty too, even though we ended up with Manila clams, not littleneck or butter. I bought them at Whole Foods, where a friendly fish monger (not Fish Boy) picked out some fresh, happy, living clams.
Bacon dashi with potatoes and clams is simple cooking at it’s best. Potatoes are boiled in the dashi then strained out, then the clams are thrown in and steamed. When all the clams have opened up, the potatoes are dropped back in and a simple garnish of crisped bacon and green onion oil are put on top.
We had bread on the side to soak up the bacon dashi and Mike thought the bread in the dashi tasted like barbeque chips. I can’t say that I agreed at the time, but I have a theory on why that is: green onion oil.
Me: I don’t get the green onion oil, I didn’t taste it at all.
Mike: Really? I thought it was good.
Me: Wait a minute. Did I even put green onion oil on mine? I don’t think I did.
Mike: Well, maybe that’s why mine tastes like barbecue chips and yours doesn’t.
I think I’ll have to try this again just so I can taste the dish with the green onion oil.
I’ll definitely be making this dish again: the clams start off mildly delicious, light and flavourful then the subtle addiction of the dish hits you and makes you just want to keep eating and eating and eating.