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Manila Clams in Coconut Milk with Southeast Asian Flavors

Serves: Makes 2 to 4 servings


  • 212 pounds Manila clams
  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh galangal or peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 green onion, white and green parts, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 14-inch-thick slices
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, bruised with knife
  • 1 serrano or other small green chile, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup chopped plum tomato
  • 14 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 cups hot cooked jasmine rice


True, this isn’t a French recipe. But it is a terrific way to put your French mussel pot to use. Select small, relatively thin-shelled Manila or other clams for this exotically spiced clam dish. Shop for the lemongrass and galangal in markets where fresh Asian produce is sold. Fresh galangal looks a little like fresh ginger, which can be substituted here, but the flavor of galangal is a bit more peppery. You can serve this dish with chunks of crusty bread to sop up the juices, but bowls of hot jasmine rice will complement the flavors better. If you have a larger pot, the recipe doubles easily.

  1. Rinse and scrub the clams and refrigerate until needed.

  2. Trim off and discard the woody ends from the lemongrass stalks. Peel away 2 or 3 layers of dry outer leaves from the bulblike portions, mash with the back of a heavy knife to loosen and tenderize the fibers, and then chop finely. You should have about 2 tablespoons of lemongrass. Set aside.

  3. Remove the strainer from the mussel pot and set aside. Combine the coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal, green onion, salt, garlic, and chile in the mussel pot. Place over medium-low heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes to blend the flavors.

  4. In a small serving bowl, combine the tomato, cilantro, and 1 tablespoon of the lime juice and toss gently to mix. Reserve.

  5. When the coconut milk mixture is ready, lift the lid and, with a mitted hand, slide the strainer back into the pot. Add the clams, cover, and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, until the clams have opened. If not all of the clams have opened, use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer the opened clams to a bowl and cover with aluminum foil. Then, re-cover and continue to cook the unopened clams for 2 minutes, or until all are opened. Discard any clams that do not open. Remove the pot from the heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of lime juice to the coconut and clam broth, and return the clams in the bowl to the mussel pot. Top the clams with the tomato mixture.

  6. Divide the rice among 4 shallow bowls. Bring the mussel pot to the table. Invert the mussel pot lid on the table to hold the empty clam shells. Tip the pot and ladle some of the coconut and clam juice onto the rice. Transfer a few clams at a time to the bowl of rice or eat the clams right out of the pot. While eating the clams, dip them into the broth left in the mussel pot.

by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing

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