Tofino’s wealth of seafood, vibrant local produce, and close proximity to the Pacific Rim have led to an unusually bold culinary scene. The confluence of influences is clear at the RainCoast Café, where chef Lisa Henderson creates dishes using techniques she learned ― and ingredients she learned to love ― traveling in Southeast Asia.

PREP AND COOK TIME: About 45 minutes

MAKES: 4 appetizer servings

NOTES: The RainCoast Café uses Manila clams and either Prince Edward Island or green-lipped New Zealand mussels for this appetizer. We’ve lightened up their coconut-milk broth with a little white wine; if you prefer a richer sauce, replace the white wine with another can of coconut milk. Asian sweet chili sauce is sometimes labeled “for chicken.”

1 pound clams in shells, suitable for steaming (see notes)

1 pound mussels in shells (see notes)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup minced shallots

1 1/2 tablespoons minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 can (13 1/2 oz.) coconut milk (see notes)

1 cup dry white wine

1/3 cup Asian sweet chili sauce (see notes)

2 tablespoons lime juice

1/3 cup slivered fresh basil leaves


1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions

Lime wedges

1. Scrub clams and mussels; pull beards off mussels if still attached. Discard any clams and mussels that don’t close when you tap their shells.

2. Pour olive oil into a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat; when hot, add shallots, ginger, and garlic and stir often until shallots are limp, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in coconut milk, wine, and chili sauce and bring to a boil.

3. Add clams, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Add mussels, cover, and simmer, reducing heat if necessary, until all the shells have opened, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Gently stir in lime juice and basil; add salt to taste.

4. Pour into a large bowl for sharing, or ladle into individual bowls. Sprinkle green onions on top and garnish with lime wedges.

Per serving: 395 cal., 64% (252 cal.) from fat; 9.1 g protein; 28 g fat (19 g sat.); 19 g carbo (0.7 g fiber); 283 mg sodium; 15 mg chol.

Food styling: Karen Shinto

Keep Reading: