Saffron Rice with Clams

Mains, Recipes

For a thoroughly Mexican take on Spanish paella, try this recipe from Tabasco, Mexico. In other regions of Mexico, oysters might be substituted for the clams, or the cook might add sautéed bell peppers for color and additional flavor. It’s delicious either way.


Saffron Rice with Clams




  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 Tbs. hot water
  • 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) warm water, plus warm water to cover rice
  • 2 cups (400 g) medium- or long-grain white rice
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, about 10 oz (300 g), cut into chunks, or 1 can (14.5 oz/400 g) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) chopped white onion
  • 2 tsp. chopped garlic (about 6 small cloves)
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 fl. oz./75 ml) safflower or canola oil
  • 2 lb. (1 kg) small clams, well scrubbed
  • 4 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, chopped
  • Fine sea salt



1. In a small bowl, soak the saffron threads in the hot water for about 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, soak the rice in warm water to cover for 10 minutes. Drain the rice and rinse under running cold water until the water runs clear. Drain thoroughly. Put the tomatoes in a blender. Add the onion, garlic and saffron with its soaking water. Process until smooth.


2. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, warm the oil. Stir in the rice and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Pour the tomato mixture through a sieve placed over the saucepan. Simmer, stirring occasionally, to combine the flavors, 6 to 8 minutes. Put the 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) warm water into the unrinsed blender, swirl it around and add to the rice. Bring to a boil and add the clams, discarding any that do not close to the touch. Add the parsley and 2 tsp. salt. Stir once, cover and simmer over low heat until the rice is fluffy and the clams have opened, 20 to 25 minutes.


3. Spoon the rice and clams into a wide, shallow serving bowl or into individual plates with rims, discarding any clams that failed to open. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.





Bring a true taste of Mexico to your table with our mouthwatering collection of down-home dishes in Rustic Mexican, by Deborah Schneider.





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