Vietspices Search

Monday, January 20, 2014

Hến Nấu Tỏi và Bơ (Clams in Butter and Garlic Broth)

Being sick for the last few days certainly doesn't lend my appetite to any seafood delicacy. But I've been bedbound slurping white rice porridge endlessly. It's fortunate that I can afford to lose a few pounds. I guess there's an upside to being tied down by a viral illness. It seems like I'm frequently ill these winter days. Only if this were a sickness of just wanting to be mollycoddled.

Just then, my sister's family decided to fly in all the way from San Antonio to visit. On their first day here, I managed to muster up some energy to prepare them a meal. On the menu was bánh canh tôm cua (Shrimp and Crab Udon Soup), boiled crabs and another of my family's favorite appetizer - Clams in Butter and Garlic Broth. The latter was a hit, especially with the kids. They devoured every clam and slurped every drop of the broth in their bowls. Unfortunately, the demand was higher than supply.

What makes this dish is the delicious broth. It's buttery, garlicky but smooth. The secret ingredient in this dish is Hon-Dashi. It's a Japanese seafood soup stock made from a smoked and dried fish called the Bonito. Hon-Dashi is a versatile seasoning. It is the base of most popular Japanese dishes such as Miso soup, noodle soups, meat and vegetable stew, stir-fried noodles, dipping sauce for tempura, the Japanese rolled omelet, and fried rice. 

If you are in the mood for some clams, here's a version you may want to try.
RECIPE: Clam in Butter and Garlic Broth

About 4-5 lbs Clams (I usually get fresh clams at Costco)
1/2-2/3 stick of  Butter
1 whole Garlic, finely minced
About 6-8 Mushrooms
1 1/2 -2 tablespoons Hon-Dashi Stock (available at most Asian supermarkets)
2 Green Onion, chopped
Basil Leaves, optional
3 cups Water

Preparing Clams

Soak clams and rinse it a few times until the water is clear and there's no sand residue.  Set aside.
Preparing Mushroom

Chop mushrooms into small pieces, set aside.
Cooking Clams

Saute garlic and butter over medium low heat until fragrant.  

Add mushroom and give it a stir.  

Add water and bring it to a boil. Then add hon-dashi and give it a stir. When the broth is boiling, add clams, cover the pot and cook just until shells pop open wide. That's how to tell when they're done.

Turn the heat off.  Add spring onion and basil leaves.  Give it a stir and serve.


Enjoy clams while they are still steaming.

Clams, roasted garlic crabs, crawfish and eggrolls

Eat well.  Stay hungry!


  1. This looks really good Annette, I have to try soon. Thanks for the recipe! Love your blog!

    1. Thanks Tra Xanh. This clams dish is simple to prepare and it's wonderful. After posting this recipe, I am now not sure if I jotted down the correct ratio of water and hon-dashi. lol. Just add more hon-dashi if needed :-)