Cook Like: Sameh Wadi

Sameh Wadi is a young chef with a long resumé: He and brother Saed opened the high-concept Middle Eastern restaurant Saffron in downtown Minneapolis, launched a line of spice blends, debuted the instantly popular World Street Kitchen food truck, and then transformed that truck into one of Uptown’s most popular casual eateries. Now Wadi has published The New Mediterranean Table, capturing his cosmopolitan view of flavor. This seafood dish, published in the new cookbook, reflects Wadi’s style—clean, simple, and classic, but with real depth of flavor due to generous doses of fennel and arak (a Levantine anise liquor).

Steamed Clams with Arak

Makes 2 servings

3     lb. Manila clams
1     Tbsp. canola oil
1     medium shallot, finely minced
1     medium fennel bulb, trimmed and cut into
             thin slices, lengthwise
        sea salt to taste
3     Tbsp. arak, ouzo, or other anise-flavored liquor
¼     c. vegetable stock, dry white wine, or water
3     Tbsp.unsalted butter, diced and chilled
1     Tbsp. fresh dill, roughly chopped, plus more for garnish
        chili flakes to taste
1     lemon, halved
        crusty bread, for serving

1. Scrub clams clean under cold running water. Discard any clams that don’t close after a small tap.
2. Heat large saucepan over moderate heat; add canola oil, shallots, and fennel. Season with salt and cook 2–4 minutes, until shallots become translucent.
3. Add clams, arak, and vegetable stock and season with salt. Cover, turn heat to high, and steam clams, shaking the pan occasionally until the clams open, about 5 minutes. While sauce is simmering, slowly add butter to the pan and swirl in dill, chili flakes, and squeeze of lemon. Season with salt to taste.
4.  Place in serving bowl and garnish with reserved dill, discarding clams that haven’t opened. Serve immediately with crusty bread.

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