Baja Clams with Cerveza and Epazote

John Sedlar of Playa shares his recipe from the 2012 Food Lovers Guide

baja clams

We asked three chefs to incorporate an ingredient from this month’s “Food Lovers Guide: An Encyclopedia of Good Taste” into a delicious signature recipe. Here, chef John Sedlar of Playa restaurant incorporates epazote into a vibrant dish of Baja-style steamed clams with black beans.

Serves 1 to 2


1 teaspoon garlic, peeled and minced

2 thyme sprigs

2 tablespoons huitlacoche (preferably frozen and thawed)

½ cup black beans (fresh cooked or canned)

½ cup pale ale beer

1 ½ tablespoons xnipek salsa (salsa negro)

12 epazote leaves

7 Manila clams, washed

½ cup chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Red amaranth blossoms (as needed for garnish)

Micro-cilantro (as needed for garnish)

Purple tomatillos (as needed for garnish)

Fried epazote leaves (as needed for garnish)


1. Heat med. size pot. Add butter and melt. Add onion, season with salt, pepper and cook till translucent. Add garlic, beans and huitlacoche. Cook till garlic is aromatic. Add beer, thyme, xnipek, stock and 6 epazote leaves. Simmer for 3 min.        

 2. Add clams and cover. As the clams open, remove from the pot and place them into a separate plate. Continue to simmer till the broth is nappe (liquid is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon). Check seasoning. The flavor should have an equal balance of salt and spice.       

 3. Once the broth is nappe (thickened) and flavorful, place the clams into a bowl and pour over the broth. Garnish with fried epazote and cielo verde herbs.