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Sean Usher’s Pickled Clams

Sean Usher’s Pickled Clams recipe is inspired by a  cichetti recipe that Italians in the Venetian region—who harvest their clams from the Adriatic year-round—can serve in any season.

Gabardine chef Sean Usher’s recipe features fennel and red onion. Red pepper flakes add a touch of spice.  Perfect for a casual pre-dinner snack in the kitchen.

Pickled Clams


1 dozen littleneck clams

1/4 bulb fennel, thinly sliced (use a mandolin if possible), reserve fronds

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (use a mandolin if possible)

1/2 cup white sugar

1 cup white wine vinegar

1 tbsp salt

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Olive oil

2 cloves garlic

Crusty Italian bread


Clean clams under cold running water to remove any sand. Using a clam shucker, remove clams from shell and place in a bowl, reserving liquor (clam juice) in a separate vessel. Place sliced fennel and onions in the bowl with the clams. In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, salt, sugar, pepper flakes and about a tbsp of reserved clam liquor. Place saucepan on the stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and steep for five minutes. Pour pickling liquid over clam, fennel and onion mixture, cool to room temperature, cover and place in fridge overnight.


Remove clam mixture from fridge. Use a slotted spoon to remove clams, fennel and onions from pickling liquid and place in a clean bowl. Into bowl drizzle 1/2 tbsp olive oil, a pinch of salt, and some reserved fennel fronds. Cut 1/2-inch slices of bread, brush them with olive oil and toast in a frying pan. When nicely browned, remove from pan and rub garlic cloves on both sides of bread. Spoon clam mixture onto toasted bread and garnish with a few more fennel fronds.


Sean Usher was born and raised in Toronto. He fell in love with cooking after discovering Emeril Lagasse on the Food Network at the age of ten. He attended culinary school at George Brown College and Stratford Chefs School. Throughout his eight years in the industry, Sean has worked in many Toronto establishments. You can currently find him at The Gabardine in Toronto’s downtown core.


Inspired by the Venetian tradition of cicchetti—small dishes paired with wine—this recipe is published courtesy of Modello Canada, a seventh generation, family-owned Venetian wine company. For additional recipes, tips on living like a Venetian, and more, visit


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