By SARA MOULTON
I'd love to claim that this wonderful recipe required hours of arduous research and testing before I was able to settle on the exact proportions of ingredients. But I had almost nothing to do with it. The clams did it.
Certain ingredients, including clams, mussels, rack of lamb, skirt steak and dark chocolate, make meals delicious with very little effort on your part. Clams and mussels are especially generous, delivering a one-two punch of taste thrills: the succulent bivalves themselves and the deeply flavorful juices that stream out of them when they're cooked.
My favorite way to mess with clams is to steam them, as in this recipe. You toss all the ingredients into a pot, pile on the clams, put on the lid, crank up the heat and presto! Ten minutes later the dish is done. The only problem is the clam liquor at the bottom of the pot is so tasty that I'm forced to sop it up with bread.
That's why I decided to bulk up this dish with broccoli rabe, a healthy, savory vegetable that absorbs some of the clam liquor as it cooks (though the clam liquor that remains still cries out for at least a slice or two of country-style bread).
As a way of blunting the vegetable's slightly bitter edge, your first step with broccoli rabe is to blanch it. Cut off the tough ends of the stems, then boil it all in a large pot of salted water for two minutes. Next, drain it and transfer it to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the color. Finally, chop it crosswise into pieces about ½ inch thick. It's just much easier to eat that way. The garlic, chili sauce, ginger and sesame oil in the broth are complements strong enough to stand up to the robustness of the broccoli rabe.
I've got to emphasize one crucial step to ensure the clams turn out tender. You need to remove each clam from the pot as it opens up. The first ones will be good to go after four or five minutes. The last clam might stay clammed up until five or six minutes later, by which time the first clams — if you'd left them in — would be horribly tough.
That's it. Quick, easy, nutritious, delicious and satisfying.