In Thailand, tender little clams are often served with a fragrant coconut milk-and-basil sauce. Those flavors transpose well into this remarkable version of steamed clams. A heaping bowl brought to the table makes for a stunning first course.
3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped lemongrass
2-inch piece galanga root, peeled and cut into slivers
1 small fresh red chili, finely sliced
1/2 cups coconut milk
2 kaffir lime leaves, rolled up and finely sliced
32 soft-shell clams
1/4 cup firmly packed small fresh basil leaves
1. Combine chicken stock, fish sauce, lemon juice, lemongrass, galanga root, and chili in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add coconut milk and lime leaves, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes.
2. Scrub clams under cold running water and discard any that are open. Put them into the coconut broth and simmer gently, adding the basil leaves about halfway through the cooking, until clams open, about 6 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally so the clams cook evenly.
3. Place 8 clams in each of 4 bowls. Ladle broth into bowls and serve immediately.
In Thailand, tender little clams are often served with a coconut milk-and-basil sauce. Those flavors transpose well into this remarkable version of steamed clams. We like it best when made with the traditional soft-shelled steamer clams, but it's also delicious with tender Manila clams or New Zealand cockles. Serves 4 as a first course