Eric Akis: Battle of the Super Bowl snack food

Eric Akis

The Super Bowl is this weekend, and millions of Canadians will join their American brethren and make a date with friends to watch the National Football League final on television.

If you’re the host, you’ll need to serve some food. With so many commercials and an extended halftime show, the game takes hours to complete and folks do get hungry.

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As noted in past Super Bowl stories, when I’m the host and planning what to serve, I like to theme some of the food to match where the teams come from. And I’ve done that again in today’s two perfect-for-snacking-on recipes.

The New England Patriots play in a region where clams are popular in such things as chowder and savoury cakes. Clams also taste great in a hot, rich and creamy dip, which is what I made. You can plunk my New England-style clam dip right on the table, surround it with a sliced baguette or potato chips, and let folks dig in and enjoy it.

Chicken wings are a food many people like to devour while watching a sporting event, which is why I decided to feature them in my second recipe. And, with the other team in the Super Bowl being the Los Angeles Rams, I decided to flavour them Korean-style, a cuisine popular in the city of angels, whether enjoyed from a food truck or in that city’s Koreatown.

My roasted wings are richly seasoned with such things as red pepper paste, red pepper powder, ginger, garlic and sesame oil. They are aromatic, succulent, sweet, spicy and sticky and, not surprisingly, great with beer and other cold drinks.

New England-style Clam Dip

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Serve this hot, rich New England-style clam dip with sliced bread or potato chips, for dunking. - Eric Akis

This is a hot, rich and creamy dip strewn with bits of clam meat. Spoon it on a sliced baguette, or serve with rippled potato chips for dunking.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 35 to 40 minutes

Makes: about 12 (1/4 cup) servings

1 (142 gram) can baby clams

2 (250 gram) bricks firm cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp Old Bay seasoning, plus some for sprinkling (see Note 1)

2 green onions, very thinly sliced (divided)

5 saltine crackers, coarsely crushed (see Note 2)

2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

• sliced baguette or potato chips, to taste

Set a sieve over a bowl. Open the can of clams and pour them into the sieve. Let clams drain a few minutes and then set on a cutting board and coarsely chop. Place the chopped clams in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup of the liquid you drained from them. Save the remaining clam liquid for another use, such as adding to a fish stew or chowder.

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place the cream cheese in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (see Eric’s options). Beat cream cheese until lightened. Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, Worcestershire and 1 tsp Old Bay seasoning and beat until smooth. Now mix in the chopped clams and three-quarters of the green onion.

Spoon and spread the mixture into a four-cup capacity baking dish. (My dish was 10 1/2-inches long, 7 1/2 -inches wide and two inches tall; see Eric’s options). Top the clam dip with the crushed crackers and Parmesan cheese. Now sprinkle with a bit of Old Bay seasoning.

Bake dip in the middle of the oven until bubbly and golden on top, about 35 to 40 minutes. Sprinkle dip with remaining green onions and serve warm with sliced baguette or potato chips.

Note l: Old Bay seasoning is a classic blend of herbs and spices that has long been used to flavour seafood dishes on the East Coast of the U.S. It’s sold in tins in the herb/spice aisle of many supermarkets. If you can’t find it, you could try Cajun spice in this recipe.

Note 2: You can coarsely crush the crackers with your hands into a bowl. Or, place them in a sealed zip-lock bag and use a rolling pin to roll and crush them.

Eric options: If you don’t have a stand mixer, you could use a hand-held electric mixer to make the dip. But, when asked to mix in the clams and greens onions, do that with a spoon. You can make the dip, without the cracker, Parmesan and Old Bay seasoning topping, oven-ready many hours before baking and serving it. Cover and keep refrigerated until needed.

When needed, top and bake the dip as described above, but bake it a little longer, as you will be starting from cold.

Sweet-Spicy-Sticky Korean-style Wings

These deeply flavoured, succulent, nicely spiced wings go great with cold beer.

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 45 to 50 minutes

Makes: 40 wings

20 chicken wingettes (see Note 1)

20 chicken drumettes

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

• salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/4 cup Korean-style red pepper paste (gochujang; see Note 2)

1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp Korean-style red-pepper powder, or to taste (gochugaru; see Note 2)

1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp granulated sugar

2 tsp rice vinegar

2 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp water

2 tsp minced or finely grated fresh ginger

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds (see Note 2)

1 large green onion, halved lengthwise, and then thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line two large-sided baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the wings (the drumettes and wingettes) in a large bowl, pour in the oil and toss to coat. Divide the wings among the baking sheets, ensuring there is some space between each one.

Set the wings in the oven, placing one baking sheet in the middle part, the other sheet in the lower part of the oven. Roast wings 20 minutes. Now switch the position of each baking sheet, placing the one that was in the middle of the oven in the lower part, and the one that was in the lower part in the middle. Roast wings 20 minutes more.

While the wings roast, in another large bowl, combine the red pepper paste, red pepper powder, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, water, ginger, garlic and sesame seeds. Taste the mixture and add a bit more red pepper powder, if desired.

When wings have roasted, lift them off the baking sheets and set them in the bowl with the red pepper paste mixture. Gently toss to coat the wings. Now set the wings back on the baking sheets.

Set the wings back in the oven and roast five to 10 minutes, until very hot again and aromatic. Arrange the wings on a serving platter, sprinkle with green onions and serve.

Note 1: Chicken wingettes are the middle portion of the wing near the tip. Chicken drumettes are the meaty section attached to the breast. Most groceries stores sell chicken wings cut this way.

Note 2: Roasted sesame seeds are sold at most grocers. I bought the tub of Korean-style red pepper paste (gochujang) and bag of red pepper powder (gochugaru) in the Asian foods section of the Fairway Market Shelbourne Street location. The latter was labelled Bidan red pepper powder. You can also find the paste and powder at stores selling Korean foods. In Victoria, they include Korean Food Market at 1551 Cedar Hill Cross Rd. and A Mart Korean Grocery, 652 Yates St.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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