Chinese Stir-fry Clams in Black Bean Sauce

Chinese Stir-fry Clams in Black Bean Sauce_aboutfood_page

Fermented black beans can be found at Asian markets; but if unavailable, you can substitute prepared black bean sauce.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves 2 to 4

2 pounds clams, such as littleneck or cherrystone
2 tablespoons Chinese fermented black beans,
rinsed to remove excess salt
1/4 teaspoon chili paste, or to taste, optional
1/2 cup chicken broth or stock
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil, for stir-frying
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 Chinese leek (a large scallion), white parts only,
lightly smashed and cut into 1-inch pieces, optional
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 scallion, cut into 1-inch pieces


[1] Remove the clams from their packaging. Discard any clams with broken shells, shells that have opened, or whose shells do not close when tapped. Scrub the clams well with a stiff brush (a vegetable brush is good). Although these are hard shelled clams, you may want to soak in salted water to remove excess sand and grit, using kosher or sea salt for 2 to 3 hours before cooking: 1/3 cup salt to 16 cups water is a good ratio.

[2] Mash the rinsed fermented black beans with the back of a cleaver or wooden spoon. Stir in chili paste if using.

[3] In a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients (chicken broth or stock, oyster sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sugar, and Asian sesame oil).

[4] Heat oil in a preheated wok over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the ginger, garlic, and Chinese leek if using. Stir for about 10 seconds, then add the black beans and stir for about 15 seconds.

[5] Add the clams. Stir-fry for 1 – 2 minutes, splashing with the rice wine. You may start to hear the popping sounds of the clams opening, depending on the size and specific type of clams you are using. Add the broth. Turn the heat down, cover, and simmer for about 5 minutes until all the clams have opened. Stir in the green onion.

[6] Remove the clams from the wok to a platter, discarding any that did not open. Pour the sauce over the clams. (If you like, before pouring you can thicken the sauce with a mixture of 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1/4 cup water: add the cornstarch/water mixture to the sauce, turn the heat back up and heat the sauce to boiling, stirring quickly until it is thickened).