Food & Drink | February 25, 2022 9:00 am

Clam Dip Is an NYC Icon. Here’s How to Make the City’s Finest Rendition.

Mike Price, the owner and executive chef of The Clam in Greenwich Village, shares a simplified version of his restaurant's recipe

Clam dip was made for double-dipping
Clam dip was made for double-dipping.
The Clam

Within 24 hours of the popular television variety program the Kraft Music Hall airing a recipe for clam dip in the early 1950s, New York City was completely and utterly sold out of canned clams. Fortunately for those who were lucky enough to score a tin, NYC’s supply of can openers remained robust.

That was probably the high-water mark for the savory seafood snack, as, much like the tide, interest in clam dip gradually receded as a wave of interest in lighter and healthier dipping options like salsa and guacamole swept in.

At The Clam in Greenwich Village, however, interest in the meaty mollusk is still high, and clam dip appears on the menu alongside other clammy offerings like chowder, sliders and clams served over pasta.

Unlike the variety of the hearty appetizer that was popularized on the Kraft Music Hall show in the ’50s, the dip that is served by restaurant co-owner and executive chef Mike Price is made with clams that are fresh out of the ocean, not a can. A Maryland native who grew up crabbing and fishing close to the Chesapeake Bay, Price felt compelled to make sure the dip was on the menu, as his grandmother’s version was a staple at his family’s parties growing up.

“I think she usually served it with potato chips. It was probably some semblance of sour cream with chopped-up canned clams and probably some Lipton vegetable soup mix or something. It was a very 1980s dip, but it was delicious,” Price says. “I mean, what’s not to like about it? And it’s so shareable. It’s nice to have on the table with potato chips.”

There’s no Lipton mix in Price’s dip, and he uses hand-raked clams from Long Island that have been chopped, cooked and cooled, but the sour cream remains. Price’s also added Worcestershire, Tabasco and cayenne pepper to spice things up a bit.

“If you want to get the clam flavor, it’s important to use fresh clams and make sure there’s a ton of them in there,” Price says. “Worcestershire sauce adds that umami element to it when you use the right amount. You just don’t want to make it too dark. It’s nice to add a little bit of bite to the clam dip and the cayenne pepper has the right amount of heat.”

Wanna dip your toe in the clam dip waters? Grab some chips and check out Price’s recipe — as well as this advice for purchasing clams.

“A lot of times at the grocery store, they’ll be a sign that will say something like wild from Long Island or farm-raised from Scotland or wherever,” Price says. “It’s always nice to pick the wild product. Most of the time that’s going to be what’s available locally. They should smell like the ocean and shouldn’t be open. It’s not like a mussel where they open and close again. They should be closed, packed on ice — not floating in freshwater — and relatively uniform in size. On ice, a fresh clam will last in a walk-in below 40 degrees for over a week in most cases.”

Chef Mike Price's clam dip will make your chips taste exponentially better.
Chef Mike Price’s clam dip will make your chips taste exponentially better.

Chef Mike Price’s Clam Dip


Ingredients

  • 2 cups (about 4 dozen littlenecks) finely chopped, cooked and cooled clams⁠
  • 1½ cups sour cream⁠
  • 1½ tsp fresh lemon juice⁠
  • 1½ tsp Worcestershire sauce⁠
  • ½ tsp Tabasco sauce⁠
  • ¼ cup finely chopped chives⁠
  • Kosher salt & cayenne pepper (to taste)⁠
  • Thick-cut potato chips (for serving⁠)⁠

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the chopped clam meat and sour cream.
  2. Add the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, chives and season with salt and cayenne pepper.
  3. Stir until well combined.⁠
  4. Serve the clam dip with potato chips.⁠ ⁠
  5. Note: The smaller the clam the better, as they are more tender than larger varieties.