If you are looking for an Asian-styled clams recipe, Steamed Clams with Lemongrass (Vietnamese: Ngheu hap sa) is for you. Lemongrass brings a unique, pleasant aroma which is able to remove the strong smell of seafood like clams. Moreover, the special dipping sauce made of lemongrass, lemon/kumquat and brown sugar will definitely blow your mind.

steamed clams with lemongrass

Types of Clams

In general, all types of clams are good to go with lemongrass. In Vietnam and Thailand, where this dish is very popular, people cook white hard clams. White hard clams (Lyrate Asiatic hard clam) live along the coast of several Southeast Asian countries in Pacific Ocean, such as Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, and South China. The shells of Lyrate Asiatic hard clams are often white or pale with a strong, solid build, and as the name suggests, they have a lyrate (lyre-shaped) pattern which can be quite distinctive. I can easily buy a vacuum packed, frozen bag of white hard clams, or buy fresh clams from supermarket or seafood market. The fresher clams the better.

Beside white hard clams, quahogs, Manila clams, littleneck clams or cherrystone clams are all good to make Steamed Clams with Lemongrass. However, soft-shelled clams won’t be a good choice because you’ll enjoyed both the clams and clam broth, so pieces of broken clam shells may hurt you while eating.

Selecting fresh and delicious clams is crucial for both taste and safety. Here are some tips to help you choose the best clams:

  • Check for Freshness: Fresh clams should smell like the ocean, a mild salty scent, not fishy or sour. If you detect any ammonia-like or off odors, the clams are likely not fresh.
  • Inspect the Shells: Look for clams with intact, closed shells. Avoid clams with cracked or chipped shells. If the shells are slightly open, give them a gentle tap; they should close immediately if they are alive and fresh. If they don’t close, discard them.
  • Storage: Ensure that the market stores the clams properly, in a cool environment, typically on ice but not submerged in freshwater, as this can kill sea clams.
  • Touch and Feel: Fresh clams should feel heavy for their size, indicating that they are full of water and likely alive.
  • Buy from a Reputable Source: Purchase clams from a reputable seafood market or supplier with high turnover, which generally means the seafood is fresh.

Always remember that the safety of eating shellfish like clams largely depends on their freshness and how they were handled before reaching you. When in doubt, ask the fishmonger for advice on selecting the best clams.

Ingredients of Steamed Clams with Lemongrass

For this dish, beside clams and lemongrass, do prepare some other ingredients for the special dipping sauce, including kumquat/lemon/lime, brown sugar, and Bird’s eye chili. In my opinion, kumquat is the best option for the dipping sauce because it has a unique citrus fragrance and special tart and tangy taste. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any kumquat from the nearby supermarket, so I used lime as an alternative.

steamed clams with lemongrass

How to make Steamed Clams with Lemongrass

Step 1. Preparation

  • If you use fresh clams, soak clams in water with a pinch of salt and several slices of bird’s eye chilies to help them release sands inside. If you used frozen and cooked clams bought from supermarket, just defrost them.
  • With lemongrass, cut into big slices and lightly crush them. This is for steaming with clams. If possible, wash some Thai basils to add in together with lemongrass.

Step 2. Steaming Clams

  • Start to cook 200ml (1 cup) of water on high heat. Add sliced lemongrasses & Thai basils (if any) in and cook until it boils to release the aroma of lemongrass.
  • Once water boils, add clams into the pot and close the lid. Depend on the number of clams, the cooking time can vary from 3 to 10 minutes. The obvious sign to let you know the clams are cooked is when they all open up. Immediately turn off the heat.

Step 3. Making dipping sauce

  • Use 1 more stalk of lemongrass to slice thinly into round shape, then chop a half for making dipping sauce. Slice half of a lime/lemon or 2 kumquats thinly.
  • Mixed chopped & sliced lemongrass, lime/kumquat slices, lime/kumquat juice and brown sugar with fish sauce/vegan fish sauce. Use 2 tbsp of sugar and 1 tbsp of lime/kumquat juice per 1 tbsp of fish sauce. If you like spiciness, add some slices of bird’s eye chili.

Step 4. Serving

  • Transfer steamed clams with lemongrass to a bowl. Like Clam Soup, always serve steamed clams hot because they can smell fishy once cooling down. With each piece of clam, take a bit clam juice and dipping sauce with it using the shell.
steamed clams with lemongrass

Can I store Steamed Clams with Lemongrass?

Unlike many other dishes which we can store in the fridge, with seafood like clams, you should cook and eat immediately. When clams are cold, they are more susceptible to bacterial contamination and spoil faster than pork or beef; additionally, their flavor is significantly less enjoyable.

steamed clams with lemongrass

Steamed Clams with Lemongrass Recipe

Yield: 4
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 1 minute
Total Time: 16 minutes

If you are looking for an Asian-styled clams recipe, Steamed Clams with Lemongrass (Vietnamese: Ngheu hap sa) is for you.

Ingredients

  • 1kg clams (white hard clams or other hard-shelled clams)
  • 3 stalks of fresh lemongrass

Dipping sauce

  • 1 stalk of fresh lemongrass
  • 2 kumquats or half a lemon/lime
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce/vegan fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp lime/lemon/kumquat juice

Instructions

Step 1. Preparation

  • If you use fresh clams, soak clams in water with a pinch of salt and several slices of bird’s eye chilies to help them release sands inside. If you used frozen and cooked clams bought from supermarket, just defrost them.steamed clams with lemongrass
  • With lemongrass, cut into big slices and lightly crush them. This is for steaming with clams. If possible, wash some Thai basils to add in together with lemongrass. For dipping sauce, use 1 more stalk of lemongrass to slice thinly into round shape, then chop a half for making dipping sauce. Slice half of a lime/lemon or 2 kumquats thinly. steamed clams with lemongrass

Step 2. Steaming Clams

  • Start to cook 200ml (1 cup) of water on high heat. Add sliced lemongrasses & Thai basils (if any) in and cook until it boils to release the aroma of lemongrass.steamed clams with lemongrass
  • Once water boils, add clams into the pot and close the lid. Depend on the number of clams, the cooking time can vary from 3 to 10 minutes. The obvious sign to let you know the clams are cooked is when they all open up. Immediately turn off the heat.steamed clams with lemongrass

Step 3. Making dipping sauce

  • Mixed chopped & sliced lemongrass, lime/kumquat slices, lime/kumquat juice and brown sugar with fish sauce/vegan fish sauce. Use 2 tbsp of sugar and 1 tbsp of lime/kumquat juice per 1 tbsp of fish sauce. If you like spiciness, add some slices of bird’s eye chili.steamed clams with lemongrass

Step 4. Serving

  • Transfer steamed clams with lemongrass to a bowl. Always serve steamed clams hot because they can smell fishy once cooling down. With each piece of clam, take a bit clam juice and dipping sauce with it using the shell.steamed clams with lemongrass

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 250g
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 160Trans Fat: 55g

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