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Since clams are one of my husband's favorite seafood and they're fast and easy to prepare, I cook clams quite often when we have guests. It's a simple dish, but leaves an impressive complex flavor on your palate. As my guests entered into the kitchen, they are welcomed by a rich, sweet, buttery, herbal, zesty, but hardy aroma. The lemongrass, fresh chili pepper, and lemon zest gives this dish a kick that's both earthy and aromatic. The sauce itself is absolutely delicious, and it pairs delightfully with some toasted French bread or ciabatta bread.
It's so convenient that our local Costco carries fresh clams in a bag of about 5 lbs. Last couple weeks, they had cockles instead. Clams, cockles, mussels, halibut are wonderful seafood combination for this dish if you prefer variety and complexity in flavors.
RECIPE: Clams in Spicy Lemongrass Coconut Sauce
5-6 lbs clams
1 head of garlic
2 stalks of lemongrass, trimmed
1-2 red chili peppers
2 cups coconut milk
zest of 1 lemon
fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
Rub and wash clams a few times to remove dirt. Discard any clams with broken shell, strong odors, or those that don't try to close when tapped. These are likely dead and are unfit to eat. If shells are open, tap them, and if they respond by closing their shells, they are alive and good to cook. Leave clams clean in a sink full of water.
Shallots, garlic, lemongrass - finely mince
Lemon - juice, make 1 tablespoon
Cilantro - chop, make about 1 cup
Lemon - zest
Red chili pepper - remove seeds and finely mince
In a large pot set over medium heat, add oil, shallots, garlic, and lemongrass. Cook until soft and fragrance is released.
Add coconut milk, fish sauce and clams. Mix well. Cover and cook for about 8 minutes, shaking the pot occasionally, until the clams have opened. Discard any clams that remain closed. Turn off the heat. Toss in lemon zest, lemon juice, chili pepper, and cilantro. Mix well. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning, adding more lemon juice or fish sauce if necessary.