Clams, Meet Coconut Curry
Mix local clams with a silky coconut green curry sauce for a sublime, Asian-inspired weeknight dinner.
Being a Southern girl, I typically create Southern-style dishes. However, my favorite type of food to cook is actually Asian food. I love the taste and complexity of sesame oil, teriyaki, rice vinegar and other Asian ingredients and the endless combinations with which to prepare them.
For this recipe I created a version of coconut green curry, one of my favorite Thai dishes. I have had coconut green curry sauce in many restaurants and wanted to re-create the delicate sauce with the addition of clams. It took me a few tries at this recipe but I think I nailed it with this one.
I used green curry paste, which is not as spicy as red curry paste, so as not to overpower the sweetness of the clams. The coconut milk adds the perfect essence of cream to the sauce, and the small amount of fish sauce really speaks to the earthy Asian flair of this dish (but you can certainly use soy sauce if you don’t have fish sauce on hand). You can find the green curry paste, fish sauce, coconut milk and rice noodles in the international aisle of just about any local grocery store. Pick up fresh clams at a local seafood market.
It is really important to wash your clams well before dropping them in the sauce because they hold a lot of sand. Clams breathe and filter water, and therefore they often have sand granules in the shells. By soaking them for 20 minutes in fresh water they have time to clean themselves by pushing the sand out. If you do not soak and wash your clams, your sauce can be gritty. I know because I made this mistake on one of my renditions!
The clams should all open while cooking in the sauce. A gentle shake to the pan every so often helps them pop. If you have 1 or 2 clams that do not open after the suggested cook time, just throw them out — they were likely dead before they hit the pan and you don’t want to eat dead ones for fear of sickness.
My spouse has a gluten allergy and can only have gluten in very small doses, so I opted to use rice noodles in this dish, but you can use lo mein noodles if you prefer. I think using fresh vegetables is key when preparing any dish, but it is a common theme with Asian cooking. Mincing fresh garlic and ginger can seem tedious, but the overall flavors are much better than using pre-prepared versions. I tried using lemongrass in one of my trial runs, but it was so overpowering and, honestly, I just like cilantro better.
I served this meal to a friend who said “I don’t like ethnic food” just before gobbling a dish of this up. Yes, it can be intimidating to cook with ingredients that are unfamiliar, but I assure you, it is fairly easy to create this dish, and you will impress yourself with the delicious yet delicate flavors.