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Stir-Fried Clams with Black Bean Sauce

I keep seeing these tiny, adorable clams in the Chinatown fishmarkets whenever I’m out shopping around there. They live in vast bins, not far from the live frogs and periwinkles that I keep meaning to learn how to prepare.

I have this thing about eating cute things. I like doing it. If I see something adorable and edible, I want nothing more than to pop it into my mouth. These clams were no exception. I wanted to cook them and eat them from miniature plates with a miniature fork, which is exactly what I did.

When I took them home and opened the bag to wash the clams, these two fell out locked in their tight embrace.

Stir-Fried Clams with Black Bean Sauce
Oil for frying
2 leeks, sliced into thin rounds and washed carefully
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 tbsp chopped ginger
4 birdeye peppers, ground
4 tbsp preserved black beans, rinsed and squished a bit with a fork
2 1/2 lbs. tiny clams, washed carefully
1 C chicken stock
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp shaoxing rice wine
3 scallions, chopped (only the green parts)
1 tsp sesame oil

Heat your wok until it you can feel the heat radiating off of it with your palm held several inches above the bottom. Pour in enough oil to swirl around and coat the bottom of your wok.

Add the leeks and stir-fry until brown, then remove them from the pan.

Add a little more oil if necessary. Throw in the ginger, garlic, and ground birdseye peppers and stir-fry for about thirty seconds, or until their fragrance really comes out. Add the beans and stir fry for just a moment, then add the clams, stock, soy sauces, and wine and cover the pan for a few minutes, until many of the clams open. Remove the cover, and remove the open clams. Stir-fry until the rest of the clams that will open do, removing them as they open. When that’s done, return all the clams to the pan and stir-fry just a bit to warm them up again.

Turn off the heat, and stir in the scallions and sesame oil.

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9 Responses to “Stir-Fried Clams with Black Bean Sauce”

  1. Tanna says:

    That sounds like an excellent method for cooking clams and I really like the sound of the seasonings. Dallas is not really a good place for any sea food.
    Wish I could understand how your pictures are always so stunning. Those two hugging are terrific!
    Do I remember that you shouldn’t cook/eat clams or mussels that are open and won’t close? or is that just mussels or does it matter.

  2. Austin says:

    Great pic, and sounds like a cool recipe, but aren’t those cockles as opposed to clams? Bee at Rasa Malaysia did a great post on shelled creatures recently you might want to check out: http://www.rasamalaysia.com/2006/11/which-is-your-favorite-clams.html

  3. Yvo says:

    Mm, that reminds me of a dish served at dim sum. Or maybe it’s the same dish, I wouldn’t know (my command of Chinese/Asian dishes is so small.. I would say it’s almost shameful). As for the previous commenter- if that’s what cockles are, OH… I always wondered why cockles looked suspiciously like clams ;)

  4. Even though I don’t eat clams I can’t help but be awed by all the colors and textures in this photo. This looks like something you’d see served up at a fancy outdoor restuarant. :)

  5. Danielle says:

    Tanna – You shouldn’t eat clams/mussels that won’t open when you cook them, because they were probably dead before you started cooking and thus are likely to have gone bad.

    As for the photos, thanks! If you go back to my earlier photos, they were worse – I’ve really been working on trying to improve my photography since I started this blog. I look at a lot of photos, I read articles on food photography, and I practice a whole lot. I have a collection of little dishes to use when taking photos. I have a Canon PowerShot S400, which is an old camera, barely more than a point-and-click, but I bet I’m not using it to its full potential yet. Once I can, maybe I’ll deserve a better a camera.

    Austin – You might be right. The signs in the store were all in Chinese, which I cannot read. And I’m only really personally familiar with East Coast sea life in the U.S. Cool post on shellfish, thanks for the link!

    Yvo – I’ve seen similar dishes at dim sum, definitely.

    Ari – Thank you! You can use the same sauce with other meat or tofu and it totally works, incidentally.

  6. I’m not a big seafood/shellfish person, but the rest of my family loves it all. This would be a great dish to surprise them with next time they all come over. I feel like a broken record, but your photography never fails to impress me….beautiful– particluarly the shot of the embracing clams/cockles….

  7. Mae says:

    Hi! My first time here. These little beauties caught my eyes.
    I love shellfish of all sorts especially in blackbean sauce!


  8. Those are bloody clams…wow, you can get those in NYC Chinatown? Fresh? I can’t find them anywhere in the west coast. They are essentials to some signature Malaysian dishes.

    Nice blog you have here…I am interested in participating in the upcoming Sugar High Friday.

  9. [...] Main Courses: Seafood Freeform Caramel Prawn Pies Green Curry Shrimp Scallop Chickpea Tagine Stir-Fried Clams with Black Bean Sauce Striped Bass with Ramps [...]

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