Steamed Clams are a great treat here in the Northwest and they make an appearance on my dinner table whenever I go to my favorite market, Uwajimaya's or Pike Place Market. I usually steam them with white wine and garlic, but this time I decided to go Asian as I also bought a big bunch of Thai Basil too. Clams are incredibly easy to make and take a total of about 5 minutes to steam and they are really good for you too. The Chinese believe that clams cleanse the liver and who doesn't need that? Of course, you want to get a good source of clams and I personally am a big fan of cold water shellfish so I rarely order them or cook them except when I am home in Seattle.
This version of steamed clams absolutely delighted me - partially because love the aroma and taste of Thai Basil and also because it is good to change things up and try something you love in a new way. I'm sure that you could use regular Basil too if you can't find the Thai variety. A more traditional version uses a Thai Chili paste, but that contains dried shrimp, which I definitely can't do that, so I used Chili Oil instead and it gave just the right amount of heat. Of course, you could also cut up some little red Thai Chiles if you want even more heat. This recipe is definitely a keeper and you know it is good when everyone drinks the broth out of the shells!
2 pound Manilla clams
1 Tablespoon Safflower Oil
1 shallot chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon Thai Fish Sauce
1 teaspoon Chili Oil
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
1 big handful of Thai Basil Leaves
Black Pepper to taste
In a large frying pan with a lid, put in the oil and heat. Then add in the shallot, green onions and garlic. Cook, stirring until the shallots become translucent. Add in the clams, the Fish Sauce, the Chili Oil, Black Pepper, Thai Basil and the Chicken Broth. Cover and steam for 5 minutes. Discard any unopened shells and serve immediately.
Five Element Analysis
Clams belong to the Water Element and steaming is a Watery way of cooking so that element is fully covered. The Thai Basil is both the Wood Element because it is green and leafy leaves, but it is also Metallic because it is so pungent and aromatic. The Chicken Broth adds more Wood and the garlic, onions and shallots contribute the Metal Element. The Fire Element is represented by the Chili Oil and Black Pepper. Only the Earth Element is missing so be sure to serve it with something Earthy like a Thai salad using cabbage or something sweet like a dish made with Coconut Milk.