Clam juice is an easy way to add a briny kick to seafood dishes, but the brands at supermarkets tend to be packed with preservatives and added salt. A better alternative: fresh clam juice from Virginia waterman Jimmy Hogge, who with his wife, Paige, runs Buster’s Seafood at local farmers markets.
Hogge has fished the Chesapeake for 54 years but only recently discovered he could sell the liquid that’s released when he cracks open the littlenecks he harvests in Mobjack Bay. The liquor—$5 a pint—is clear and lightly salty, with the flavor of just-shucked clams. The juice keeps only three to five days, but there are many ways to use it. We’ve added it to a garlicky pot of steamed mussels for extra dipping broth, mixed it in with white wine for Italian clam sauce and with cream for New England chowder, and even thrown it into a spicy Bloody Mary in place of Clamato.
Available October through March on Saturday at the Arlington Farmers Market (N. Courthouse Rd. and N. 14th St.) and Sunday at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market (20th St. and Massachusetts Ave., NW). May through October, it’s available Thursday at the FreshFarm market near the White House (Vermont Ave. between H and I sts., NW).
This article appears in the February 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.