After my virtual stop in South Korea to try their famous bibimbap, I decided to try a Vietnamese dish on my next stop. After all, it’s only a 4 ½ hour plane ride from Seoul to Da Nang, so I’ll make a quick culinary visit, just long enough for an appetizer in Vietnam. 😉
This is a dish I order over and over again at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants, so I decided to figure out how to make it at home! Turns out, it is really easy! It just requires two special ingredients from the Asian grocery store. The first is a Vietnamese herb that is sort of like mint or cilantro called rau ram. The pretty little leaves are a little peppery and delicious. I also used black sesame rice crackers on the side to scoop up the clams. They puff up when they are cooked, which is so much fun to watch!
Baby Clams with Rice Crackers
Inspired by a recipe from Danang Cuisine
1 tablespoon safflower oil (or other high heat cooking oil)
2 small shallots, finely sliced
1 teaspoon lemongrass, minced
1 teaspoon fresh chili pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced (I like jalapeño or serrano)
1 garlic clove, minced
5 oz canned baby clams or chopped clams, drained and rinsed (Just try to find an all-natural brand, without any added preservatives)
4 tablespoons (approximately) of rau ram, roughly chopped (Fresh basil also works if you can’t find rau ram)
1/2 teaspoon fish sauce
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1-2 sesame rice crackers
Preheat a wok or nonstick pan. Add oil. When the oil is shimmering and hot, add the shallots, and cook until caramelized. Add the lemongrass and chili pepper, and cook until fragrant. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add the clams. Toss until warmed through. Turn off the heat and add rau ram, fish sauce, soy sauce, and black pepper. Toss and serve.
Take one rice cracker and microwave for one minute until puffy. Break into pieces. Serve as a “spoon” with the clams.