豉椒炒蜆 Clams in Black bean Sauce

13 Jul

These mouthwatering clams in black bean sauce is one of the most popular dish every time we go to a Chinese restaurant for family gathering. The crushed fermented black beans along with the minced garlic and chili bring out both flavor and fragrance. This dish is sure to be a hit for any seafood lover!

Live clams should be used for this dish. There really isn’t any viable substitute for this, as clams lose flavor very quickly if they are not extremely fresh. Live clams are usually available in larger Asian grocery stores that feature a seafood section. Preferably, you have access to a store that simply has the clams put in a pile and you are allowed to pick them out individually. You can tell if the clam is alive by checking for the following:

  • Shells should be complete without any broken pieces
  • If the shells were slightly open, they should close when lightly tapped. The clam is dead If the shells re-open after you force them to a close
  • If the shells were already closed, it is very hard to tell. If a bowl of water is available, try checking to see if it floats. A floating clam is a dead clam. If no water is available, try picking heavier clams (but this is not always reliable)
  • You can usually tell whether the entire batch is fresh or not after a while. For example, if I end up picking 2 or 3 out of 10 examined clams. This is when I know the entire batch is probably not that great and would try to buy the clams at another store

Once you get home, put the clams in a bowl in cold salt water, and put the bowl in the fridge for 2-3 hours. This supposedly causes the clams to spit out any sand particles. Before cooking, scrub the shells thoroughly with a stiff brush and with plenty of water. Clams live in muddy/sandy areas and you do not want any of that to end up on your dish!


  • 1 lb manila clams
  • 1.5 tablespoon crushed fermented black beans
  • 2 red bird eye chili
  • 1/8 green pepper,  julienned
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped


  1. Wash and clean clams using directions above
  2. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, corn starch, sugar and water.  Set aside.
  3. In the large skillet, heat oil under medium-high heat.  Add shallots, garlic, and fermented black beans; cook until fragrant.
  4. Add clams, stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, add chili and green pepper, then cover and lower the heat.  When the clams open, stir in the corn starch mixture.  Cook until sauce is slightly thickened.  Discard any clam that remains closed at this point as this is an indication that it is not fresh. Sprinkle cilantro on top and serve.

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