I feel like I’m starting to get in a rut: Sue’s out for the evening, it’s time for Asian seafood. Clams with chile jam, egg noodles and basil, while tasty, did not come out quite as awesome as it sounded.
Like last week’s post, this is adapted from Leela Punyaratabandhu’s “Simple Thai Cooking.” It sounded like a no-brainer: quick to cook (given that I’ve already made a batch of her Nam Prik Pao (chile jam), and spicy. I’m less than satisfied with how it came out, though. I think some of it rests on me: I used littleneck clams, which just don’t provide a lot of clam per pound. Cherrystones would be better, but I couldn’t find them, having to settle for 50-cent-each littleneck’s or $1 chowdah clams. I also used dry curly egg noodles, missing the “fresh” qualifier in the book. Fresh noodles might have soaked up the sauce better. I also added some asparagus to add a litle more heft to the meal given the low number of clams without going heavier on carbs, but I don’t think that detracted.
The problem is that it produces a very loose, watery sauce. It didn’t stick to the noodles, and didn’t give me the sort of rich mouthfeel I wanted in this sort of dish. Perhaps some cornstarch would help? Similar Chinese dishes (Clams in Black Bean Sauce) are thickened with cornstarch and beans. Coconut Milk might work, but it’s a significant change to the flavor profile. Skipping the noodles and eating it with a baguette, like you would with mussels would be fine too.
Recipe: Clams with Egg Noodles and Chile Jam
Adapted from Simple Thai Cooking by Leela Punyaratabandhu
Serves dinner and lunch the following day
2 Tbs (10ml) oil
1.5 lbs littleneck clams (get cherrystones, though, if you can)
1 large clove garlic, chopped fine
2 Tbs (10ml) chile jam / nam prik pao
1 Serrano chile, seeded, sliced into 2″ slivers
1/2 Tbs (7.5ml) Fish Sauce
1 cup (225ml) asparagus spears cut into 3″ pieces
1/2 C basil leaves (one small plastic supermarket container full)
6 oz egg noodles (I used dried, I’d advise fresh)
- Fill a medium pot with water, set on high heat to boil. When water comes to a boil, add noodles and cook per directions. Drain but do not rinse. Add a bit of oil after draining if they will be holding for any time.
- In a large pan with a lid, heat oil
- Add garlic, and stir-fry until lightly browned
- Add chile jam and stir for 30 seconds
- Add asparagus, chiles, clams and fish sauce, and cover. (Resist the urge to add more liquid)
- Cook covered for about 5 minutes, until all the clams open
- Add basil and cover again, off the heat, until noodles are ready (at least a minute to wilt the basil)
- Serve over the noodles
Accompanied by Woodchuck Barrel Reserve Cider, and Jim Butcher’s latest Dresden Files book, “Skin Game”