The tiny, tender manila clam is the most popular type for cooking in Taiwan. These are delicate tasting and quick to cook, and they’re actually the same species of clam as littlenecks, only harvested at a younger stage. Seek them out in Asian seafood markets or any fresh seafood market with a wide selection. This simple braise infuses them with lots of classic, pungent Taiwanese flavor.
2 tablespoons vegetable or peanut oil
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 to 4 small fresh red chilies, finely chopped
2 cups rice wine
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 pounds manila clams, rinsed and scrubbed
1 cup packed fresh Thai basil leaves
Heat the oil in a large pot with a lid over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the ginger, garlic, and chilies and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice wine and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Drop in the clams and cover the pot. Let cook for 3 to 4 minutes, then peek inside. If all the clams are opened, remove from the heat; if not, cover and cook until all the clams have opened, another 1 to 2 minutes. Discard any clams that do not open after about 6 minutes. Stir in the basil and transfer the clams to a deep dish or bowl and serve immediately.
Recipes and photography from The Food of Taiwan by Cathy Erway. Copyright © 2015 by Cathy Erway. Photography by Pete Lee, 2015. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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