By Bethany Jean Clement • The Seattle Times

Tokeland Hotel Clam Chowder

2 medium potatoes, peeled

4 TBS butter

1/4 C diced bacon (about 2 strips)

1/2 C celery, diced (about two ribs)

1/2 C shallot, diced

Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper

1/2 C flour

1/4 C white wine

3 C half-and-half

1 C bottled clam juice

Zest of 1/2 lemon and a squeeze of lemon juice

1 small bunch of thyme tied with cotton string

3 tsp Worcestershire sauce, plus up to 2 tsp to finish

2 tsp hot sauce, plus up to 2 tsp to finish

1 C razor clams, cleaned and roughly chopped

1. Boil potatoes, quartered, for 10 minutes until just tender. Rinse in cold water, then dice.

2. Melt butter, add bacon and cook until almost crispy over medium heat.

3. Add celery and shallots, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring frequently, until they just start to soften (about 3 to 4 minutes).

4. Add flour and stir until white color has cooked off, about 1 minute.

5. Add white wine and stir for 1 minute.

6. Add half-and-half, then about 1/4 C clam juice, while stirring constantly.

7. Add lemon zest, squeeze of lemon juice, thyme, Worcestershire and hot sauce.

8. Cook until starting to thicken, stirring often — don’t let it scorch.

9. Add diced potatoes and the clams, then stir in the rest of the clam juice as the chowder (quickly) gets thicker.

10. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, then turn heat to low and taste. Season with salt, pepper and more Worcestershire and hot sauce, stirring in a little at a time while tasting — it will want about a teaspoon of salt and up to 2 teaspoons each of additional Worcestershire and hot sauce.

11. Serve sprinkled with extra thyme leaves and a pat of butter melting on top.

Chef Heather Earnhardt of Seattle’s beloved The Wandering Goose now has a lovely coastal headquarters at the Tokeland Hotel. Opened in 1885, it’s Washington state’s oldest lodgings. The super-creamy, slightly spicy chowder she makes at the restaurant there calls for the Pacific Northwest delicacy known as razor clams.

The best way to eat razor clams, as everyone including Earnhardt agrees, is right away, just cleaned, dredged lightly in flour and fried in butter.

Razor-clam chowder is a special treat, the delicate clams lending a bouncy texture and a perfectly light oceanic flavor.

Earnhardt’s recipe — which she’ll include in a new Tokeland Hotel cookbook when she finds the time to put it together — starts, propitiously, with frying bacon in a half-stick of butter. The celery and shallot get cooked only briefly, maintaining a little crunchy life in the chowder. Don’t chop the clams too fine; you don’t want them to get lost.

If you can’t go dig your own razor clams — or go eat chowder at the Tokeland Hotel — you can get them frozen from Alaska at Pike Place Fish Market (where they throw the fish), on-site and online.

This chowder would also be very fine made with regular Manila clams. Serve it with crackers or bread, with an extra pat of butter melting on top of each bowl.

Earnhardt says this version “tastes how you always hoped clam chowder would taste.”