Simple Clam Dip with M.Q. Barber

The Neighborly Affection series is set in Boston (well, just over the border in Brookline, but the difference is negligible unless you’re a Bostonian) where fresh seafood is a culinary staple. It’s not unusual for Henry Webb to stop by the fish market in the morning and pick up something to make for dinner for his partners.

For a gal with a Midwestern upbringing, living in Boston was a treat. But long before I moved out there, my family had its own favorite seafood dish – my father’s incredibly easy but delicious clam dip. At every family gathering, you could count on a huge bowl of clam dip disappearing by the crackerful before the main course arrived.

You don’t need any special skills or expensive fresh seafood to make this dip, though you could swap out canned for fresh if you prefer. The amounts are for a party-size bowl of dip; scale down for a snack, or you’ll be eating clam dip for days. Which, actually, wouldn’t be so bad.

Serve with crackers, a veggie tray, or thin-sliced and toasted baguettes.


3 8-ounce packages of plain cream cheese (substitute Neufchatel if you’re calorie-counting)
1 8-ounce tub of chive & onion cream cheese
3 cans of minced clams (2 drained, 1 undrained)
1 can crabmeat (optional)
1 bunch green onions (scallions), chopped fine
Garlic powder (to taste)
Worcestershire sauce (to taste)
Lemon juice (to taste)

Per my father, the complete instructions are “mix well in bowl” and “refrigerate.”

For a little more guidance:

Soften the cream cheese and add the clams, the crab (if using), and the green onions.

Mix well.

For the garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice, start small. The flavor will get stronger and permeate the dip while it’s chilling. Try 2 teaspoons to a tablespoon of each the first time and chill for two hours. If the flavor isn’t strong enough for you, experiment by adding a teaspoon at a time.