Since falling in love with Nghêu Hấp (Vietnamese steamed clams with lemongrass and basil) in Da Nang, I’ve been eager to replicate that delicious memory at home.
So here’s my first attempt at Nghêu Hấp and I’m posting my recipe here because, not to toot my own horn, it turned out really well. I fell off my chair at how good it tasted!
500g Fresh Clams (also known as “lala” in Singapore)
50g Ginger (sliced)
3 Stalks of Lemongrass
150ml Coconut Water
2 Green Chillies
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tablespoon of Fish Sauce
Dash of Pepper
Basil and Mint (amount according to preference)
PREPARATION & COOKING
1. Wash clams in clean water and soak them in the water for about 30 minutes.
2. Rinse the lemongrass, peel the garlic, slice and de-seed the green chillies, and peel and slice a small nose of ginger.
3. Split / crush the lemongrass, garlic and chilli by smashing them with the flat side of a cleaver. I don’t have a cleaver so I split them with a knife sharpening block.
4. Line the crushed items (lemongrass, garlic and chillies) and ginger at the base of a pot.
5. Pour in the coconut water and water (total of 300ml) into the pot, cover it and bring to a boil for 15 minutes.
6. Add in the tablespoon of fish sauce and dash of pepper.
7. Add in the clams and turn to low fire. Cover the lid and simmer. Although the dish says “steamed clams”, it is actually boiled clams.
8. Boil the clams for about eight minutes and turn off the fire. Then open the lid of the pot and add the basil and mint leaves. Cover the pot with the lid again and wait for about 3 minutes.
9. The clams would absorb the aroma of the base ingredients while getting infused with the fragrance of the herbs.
10. Now, open the lid and serve.
Nghêu Hấp has a delicate flavor where the steamed clams hint lightly of a fresh sea’s harvest with a refreshing note of earthy herbs. The light broth steeped with the essence of all the ingredients is where the magic is embodied in this dish.
Leave no drop un-savoured!