Thai Lemongrass Coconut Clams
This citrusy broth is a twist on the Thai favorite, tom yum soup. It has a coconut base rather than chicken broth and is flavored by garlic, ginger and lemongrass and finished with lime juice and fish sauce. This recipe calls for small clams, however, mussels could also be substituted.
All hard clams are quahogs and the terms littlenecks, cherrystones and chowder clams describe the size of the clam. I typically opt for littleneck clams when eating clams steamed because I like their small size and they are widely available at stores. Littlenecks have a mild briny flavor and have extremely tender and juicy meat. Manila clams are also about the same size as littlenecks and have a thinner shell therefore having a higher meat to shell ratio.
New Zealand cockles are actually a-closely related cousin of clams – they are saltwater bivalve mollusks and are a bit smaller than littleneck clams. They are typically imported from New Zealand and have a briny-sweet flavor and can be used as you would any other small clam. Fun fact: they also last longer because of their thick shell – they can last up to two weeks rather than the short shelf life of other clams which is typically just a few days.
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-inch knob ginger, peeled and sliced
3 stalks lemongrass, chopped into 2” pieces (tender parts only)
2 Thai birdseye chilies, thinly sliced
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
1 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon fish sauce
3 pounds small clams, such as manila, littleneck or New Zealand cockles, scrubbed
2 tablespoons sliced green onions
¼ cup Thai basil leaves
Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, add the canola oil and heat through. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and Thai chilies, sautéing until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the coconut milk and chicken stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce slightly thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in lime juice and fish sauce.
Add the clams and cover the pot, steaming until they open, about 8 minutes. Add clams and broth to a large bowl and garnish with the green onions and Thai basil. Serve immediately.
Serves 2 to 4.