Clams with Lemongrass and Chiles
This appetizer is delicious with mussels as well. Decrease the amount of chiles if you like it less spicy.
- Coarse salt
- 4 dozen small clams, such as littleneck, rinsed well (about 5 pounds)
- 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, hard outer leaves removed and reserved, bottom 4 inches of stalks, thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 small fresh green chiles, such as jalapeno, serrano, or Thai chiles, thinly sliced crosswise
- 3 small fresh red chiles, such as cherry peppers or Holland chiles, thinly sliced crosswise
- 1/2 cup lime juice, plus lime wedges, for garnish (5 limes total)
- 1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
- Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in a large bowl of cold water. Add clams. Let soak at room temperature 15 minutes. Drain.
- Scrub clams under cold running water. Transfer to a large bowl of fresh cold water. Repeat, scrubbing clams and rinsing in fresh water. Drain. Refrigerate, uncovered, until ready to use, up to 8 hours.
- Put reserved lemongrass leaves in a large pot with 1/2 inch of water. Bring to a boil. Add clams. Steam, covered, until clams open, 6 to 7 minutes. Drain. Discard any unopened clams and the leaves.
- Add oil, lemongrass, shallots, garlic, and chiles. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until lemongrass and shallots turn golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add clams to pot, and gently stir to coat.
- Stir together lime juice and fish sauce in a small bowl; pour over clams. Transfer clams to a large serving bowl; sprinkle with cilantro. Garnish with lime wedges.