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Recipes with Roasted Chilli Paste

Clams Stir-fried with Roasted Chilli Sauce and Basil
Hoi Pad Nahm Prik Pao or (Hoi Pad Nam Prik Pao)*

A Recipe of Kasma Loha-unchit
Recipe Copyright © 2000 Kasma Loha-unchit.

You might like to make Roasted Chilli Paste from scratch for this recipe.

(Click images to see larger version.)               

Stir-fried ClamsIngredients

  • 2 lb. fresh clams
  • 2-3 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6-10 Thai chillies, cut in half crosswise and bruised with a knife blade
  • 2-3 Tbs. roasted chilli paste (nahm prik pow) (See information on roasted chilli paste.)
  • 2 Tbs. water, or soup stock
  • 1-2 tsp. sugar, to taste
  • 1 packed cup Thai basil leaves (bai horapa), flower buds may also be used
  • 1 Tbs. fish sauce (nahm bplah), as needed to taste

Rinse the clams well, scrubbing any gritty sand off the shells. Soak in cold salted water for half to one hour. Discard any opened shells that would not close back together when pressed between the fingers. Then rinse in several changes of cool water and drain. Heat a wok over high heat until its surface begins to smoke. Swirl in the oil to coat the wok surface and wait 15-20 seconds for it to heat. Add the garlic and Thai chillies, followed a few seconds later with the roasted chilli sauce and water or soup stock. Sprinkle in a teaspoon of sugar. Stir well and when the ingredients in the wok look well blended, toss in the clams. Stir to mix with seasonings. Stir-fry for a minute or so, then cover and reduce heat to medium. Uncover every 20 seconds or so to stir.

Stir-frying ClamsWhen the clams begin to spit out water, uncover and increase heat to high, and when some of them begin to open, stir in the basil. Taste the sauce to see if it is salty and sweet enough. Adjust by adding fish sauce and/or sugar to taste. Continue to stir-fry until the clams have fully opened their shells. Do not overcook as they will shrink and become tough. Transfer to a serving dish and serve while still hot.

Serves 5-6 with other dishes and steamed rice in a shared family-style meal.

Notes and Pointers

In my childhood and youth, I was very fond of clams, particularly the kind with pretty patterned shells called hoi lai. They are smaller than the Manila clams sold in seafood markets here – about half the size, but their shells are much thinner and lighter, giving much more meat in one kilogram than the larger clams. Furthermore, their meat is sweet, tender and very tasty. Since sometimes they can be filled with sand, these clams are pried opened beforehand to rinse their flesh before cooking. Their thin shells and small size make them easy to pry open with a knife blade.

Sprigs of basil are always complimentary whenever these clams are purchased at the market. Mother frequently stir-fried big wokfuls of them with the basil and the premium roasted chilli paste made by someone she knew. No matter how big a platter of clams was set on the dinner table, each and every one of them would be picked clean by my brothers and me. In addition, the delicious sauce spooned over rice helped me polish up the mountain of grains on my plate with lip-smacking satisfaction.

*Because the Thai language has its own script, there are different ways of transliterating Thai into English. One version is Hoi Pad Nahm Prik Pao; the more usual spelling is Hoi Pad Nam Prik Pao. See A Note on Thai Pronunciation and Spelling.

Recipe Copyright © 2008 Kasma Loha-unchit in Dancing Shrimp. All rights reserved.

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