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.

Chinese Steamed Clams

Overcooking will result in chewy and rubbery clams, so remove the clams from the heat once all or most of the shells are opened.

Check out the step-by-step cooking pictures at the previous page.


  • 500 grams local clams such as lala, manila or asari clams
  • 1 tsp sea salt for soaking clams
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 3 stalks spring onions only the bottom white part
  • 2 tbsp Chinese wine (Hua Tiao/Shaoxing)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • chopped coriander and/or spring onions for garnish

(A) Aromatics

  • 3 thin slices ginger julienned
  • 1/2 tbsp fermented black beans rinsed, patted dry & mashed slightly with a fork
  • 2 shallots finely chopped
  • 1 red finger-length chilli diced; for colour
  • 2 red chilli padi (bird’s eye chili) diced; for the heat; optional
  • 2 garlic cloves minced


  1. Scrub the clams thoroughly with a hard bristle brush. Submerge the clams in a pot of water with 1 tsp salt added for at least an hour for the clams to purge its sand. Drain the water, rinse the clams and set aside.
  2. Heat oil in wok. Add (A) and stir fry briefly until aromatic.
  3. Add washed clams, spring onions (white part), Chinese wine and water. Stir fry for a brief moment to coat the clams in the sauce, then cover with lid to let the clams steam for about 3 minutes, or until all or most of the shells are opened. Discard any shells that remain closed. Garnish with coriander/spring onions and serve immediately.