This isn't exactly a quick meal, but it's well worth every second you put into it. If you can't get razor clams, mussels make a good alternative.
30 razor clams
250ml dry sherry
½ tsp saffron infused in 1 tbsp boiling water and left to cool
3 tbsp mayonnaise
3 tbsp olive oil
2 fennel bulbs, cut into 0.5cm slices.
6 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
3 star anise
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
2 red chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 strip shaved orange rind
5g chopped parsley
¼ tsp fennel seeds, toasted and crushed
- Wash the clams in cold water, gently scrubbing the shells, until the water runs clear, drain and set aside. Pour the sherry into a large sauté pan, cover and place on a high heat. Bring to a boil, then add the clams, cover again, shake the pan and steam for two to three minutes, until the shells open. Remove from the heat and lift out the clams with a slotted spoon. When cool enough to handle, detach them from their shells, cut out and discard the central brown intestinal sac, and trim off the dark-tipped end. Slice the remaining clam into 1.5cm pieces and set aside.
- Strain the cooking liquids through muslin and pour 250ml into a jug. Add half the saffron and set aside. Put the remaining saffron in a small bowl, stir in the mayo and refrigerate.
- Wipe clean the pan, add a tablespoon and a half of oil and put on a medium-high heat. Add half the fennel and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and sauté for three minutes, turning so it colours on both sides. Add another tablespoon of oil and repeat with the remaining fennel. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the pan and return to a medium heat. Add the shallots, star anise, garlic and chillies, and cook for six minutes, until the shallots are soft. Pour in the saffron liquid, add the orange rind and cook to reduce by half – about three minutes. Return the clams and fennel to the pot, cook for a minute, just to warm through, stir in the parsley and divide between serving bowls. Spoon over the saffron mayo, finish with the fennel seeds and serve at once.