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Chinese Steamed Clams

First posted in Nov 2011, updated in Oct 2017.

This is my special home recipe for Chinese steamed clams, and also my favourite way of cooking them. The clams are steamed in assorted aromatics and Chinese wine. A simple recipe with winning flavours. Read on for step-by-step pictures below.

More Clams Recipes:

Chinese-style Steamed Clams Recipe
Steamed clams is one of the easiest, fastest and cheapest dish to whip up at home.  It is extremely fast as the actual cooking time of the clams sitting in the wok is less than 5 minutes. Overcooking will result in chewy and rubbery clams. The best place to get clams is at the wet market as the local “lala” clams are fresh and cheap (I usually pay about S$3 for 1 kg of clams), but many times I also use frozen Japanese asari clams (thaw before use) which also yield good results though a bit pricey.

Chinese Steamed Clams Recipe

Chinese-style Steamed Clams (Step-by-Step)

Note: The quantity shown below is 250 grams of clams for 1 person. I cooked a smaller portion as it’s easier for phototaking.

Chinese-style Steamed Clams Recipe
We all know how important ginger is in a clams or seafood recipe, but there is another equally important ingredient here in this family recipe. That special ingredient is dried fermented black beans. They are rinsed (must get rid of all the salt), patted dry on kitchen towels and mashed slightly before adding to the wok (pictured above). This is the only salty “seasoning” I used for this clams recipe – no soy sauce, fish sauce or oyster sauces. The naturally simple savoriness of the fermented black beans fully and subtly accentuates the flavours of the clams.

Chinese-style Steamed Clams Recipe
Add clams, spring onions (only the bottom white part), Chinese wine (Hua Tiao) and water. Stir-fry quickly so that the clams are evenly coated in the sauce.

Chinese-style Steamed Clams Recipe
Close the lid and let the clams simmer for about 3 minutes, or until all or most of them have opened. Discard any clams which do not open.

Chinese-style Steamed Clams Recipe
Straight from the pan, these are the cooked clams. I was so lucky that every single one of them opened – it was a good batch of clams even though I was using frozen.

Chinese Steamed Clams Recipe
By the time the clams are cooked, there will be a seafood broth collected which to me is the best part (well, apart from the clams of course). This broth is called essence of clams, which is concentrated umami deliciousness. I drizzle it over rice or drink it on its own.

Chinese Steamed Clams Recipe
Everything (except the shells) is in my tummy. The stir-fried aromatics and the clams broth taste great when mixed in with rice.

15 comments on “Chinese Steamed Clams”

  1. You are attempting me again with the price of clams. Here, they sell for about USD4 for 1/2 kg – so not very cheap and that’s why I seldom buy them to cook at home. But I do love clams (prefer clams to mussels) !!! drooling now…over your delicious clams.

  2. Sure looks delicious! I wonder if I buy clams here, would my husband and girls eat it?

  3. I love tofry clams with chilli and bean paste but your steamed clams look so much more healthier and delicious than mine.

  4. I always want to cook a clam like this but never had a chan to do so :D
    Tq fr sharing the recipe, will try this soon when I have a chance
    a healthy clam dish! what could be better than that? ;)

  5. Oh yum! I love lala choked like this, so good!

  6. Hi Wiffy, eh..why is this called steaming when the clams are fried with the seasonings? steaming means clams placed on a plate over boiling water, no? Regardless, this looks yummy as usual. My elder son loves clams .. I dun normally stir fry with homemade chilli and garlic, and then add my fav tang hoon :-)

    • I was thinking whether to name it stir-fried or steamed too. At the end,
      decided with steaming because the clams were cooked by covering with a
      lid to allow the steam to cook the clams. The stir-frying in the beginning is for the ginger etc to be aromatic.

  7. i love that.

  8. hi, do u have a recipe for canned pacific clams. It was given to me by somebody but dunno how to cook it the chinese way

  9. Hi, is it normal that after soaking clams for 1 hour, most of the clams are still not opened?
    Is it during cooking then most shells will open & discard those that still remain closed?

    • Hi Joyce,
      is it normal that after soaking clams for 1 hour, most of the clams are still not opened? – Yes, that’s perfectly normal

      Is it during cooking then most shells will open & discard those that still remain closed? Yes, correct :)

    • My kids and hubby enjoy the steamed clams They are begging me to cook it more often.
      Thanks for sharing.

  10. Hi Wiffy,

    Is it ok to omit the black bean?
    All bottle in supermarket is very big, i don’t i can finish it before the expiry…..

    • Yes, you can omit the fermented black beans. Technically though, they “never” spoil (though there is expiry date), it keeps well in the fridge and is great for many Chinese dishes.

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