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It’s the Most Clamtastic Day of the Year: National Clam Chowder Day!

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It’s that time of year to celebrate -- National Clam Chowder Day is here! At Ivar’s, we treat holidays very seriously – Mother’s and Father’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas…we love them just as much as the next. However, National Clam Chowder Day holds a spe-shell place in our hearts. So, in honor of the most clam-tastic day of the year, we’re sharing some fun facts about our beloved chowder and even a recipe right from our cookbook for you to make at home too! 

Since the opening of our Pier 54 Fish Bar location in 1938, we like to think we put clam chowder not only on the Seattle map, but the Northwest’s as well. Our chowder has become a staple of the PNW, with Ivar’s chowderheads coming from near and far to enjoy a cup or bowl (or bread bowl!) – and even tanker. Like the true icon Ivar’s chowder is, Seattle destinations were created to pay it homage. The bowl-like configuration of CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks, Sounders and Dragons, was patterned after a clam, if you really think abou it! The giant disc on top of the Space Needle? It might not be too much of a stretch to consider that it might have been designed to mimic the shape of a chowder bowl. We’ve all heard the age-old question, how many cups of chowder would it take to reach the height of the Space Needle? #KeepClam If you stacked the number of cups of chowder we sold in 2019, it would equal out to 468 Space Needles. Can’t sink your teeth into that number? It would stack up to 20 Mount Rainiers worth of chowder, or span the length of 52 Tacoma Narrows Bridges reaching across the Puget Sound to Kitsap Peninsula. 

Today, we have a dedicated chowder-making facility, where our star chowder-makers have more than 150 years of combined tenure! In there, we make chowder for our 60 restaurants and 12,000 accounts worldwide, including grocery and club stores, school cafeterias, ski lodges, restaurant chains, airlines and the military – just to start. During the holidays, we make as many as 5,000 gallons of chowder each day! It takes a lot of stirring, but we’re dedicated to feeding our award-winning chowders to the masses.  

Do all these facts have you hungry? Us too. Go ahead and dive into a cup of chowder at one of our locations, or enjoy some homemade chowder on your own with this recipe – but not just any chowder, Ivar’s clam chowder, of course! 

Clamhattan Red Chowder 

Serves 6

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs Manila (or Jakarta or Bangkok) clams, rinsed and scrubbed
  • 1/2 c dry white wine
  • 1 15 oz can clam broth or juice 
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 c finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/2 c finely chopped celery
  • 1/4 c tomato paste 
  • 1/3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes 
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp dried 
  • 1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)  

Instructions 

  1. In a large saucepan the clams, wine and clam juice over high heat. Stir, cover and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, removing the clams as they open. (Discard any that do not open). Strain the liquid into a large measuring cup – you should have 4 cups. Wipe the pan and return it to the heat. 
  2. Heat the oil in the saucepan over medium-high heat and add the onion and celery. Cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and flour and cook for 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the reserved clam broth and stir in the pepper flakes, thyme and potatoes. Bring to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, shuck and coarsely chop the clams. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs and stir in the clams, along with salt and pepper to taste and the parsley. Serve hot.

To clean clams: 

To clean clams before cooking, rinse and scrub them under cold water, then soak them in cold salted water for about an hour to remove any sand and grit the fellas might have picked up in the ocean or the sandbox. Salted water can be made by mixing about 1 teaspoon of salt for every cup of water used. Don’t be shellfish with the water; make sure there’s enough to cover them completely. Do not try to clean the clams on your dishwasher’s clam-cleaning cycle. 

If you didn’t already know, we’re a-fish-ionados for chowder, so it only makes sense to raise a cup of it today in honor of the holiday. We hope you learned a thing or two about one of the most popular dishes at Ivar’s. Now head to your nearest Seafood Bar or full-service location and enjoy some for yourself!