Clams seem to go hand-in-hand with summer, and we have gone way too long on this blog without dishes involving bivalves! These clams in black bean sauce were so good; I know Judy has a particular weakness for them.
We haven’t had a good black bean recipe yet either so this should cover at least two omissions in our recipe collection.
We used manila clams for this recipe, which were quite small (about 25 to 30 per pound) but are beautiful and sweet. They are perfect for stir-fried dishes like this one that can serve as appetizers, as one dish of many served family style or just served with some white rice as a main dish.
As for the clams, you can also use Cherrystone or Littleneck clams, which are a bit larger but more common in North America and also delicious.
What to Look For When Buying Fresh Clams
A very important part of cooking with clams is buying fresh ones so here are a few quick and essential tips on ensuring you start this stir-fried clams in black bean sauce recipe off on the right foot!
- Make sure you buy clams from a good fish monger or a place that moves a lot of seafood. If possible, choose a vendor with live tanks as it helps to keep the clams alive and cleans the sand out of them and you’ll have a better chance of getting them fresh and live.
- Make sure all of the clams are closed tight or close when touched which means they are alive. Closed clams do not ensure they are alive but you can pick them out during the cooking process. Also, use your nose and smell before you buy! They should smell sweet and should not have any strong fishy odor.
- It’s best to store clams in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them in the wax bag that the fish monger usually gives you. You should buy and use them the same day if possible and it’s best not to let them sit for more than overnight
HOW TO PURGE CLAMS OF SAND & GRIT
While many sources say to purge clams in fresh water or water with additions like cornmeal or flour, we have not found those methods to work as well as this clam purging method from huntgathercook.com:
Add 35g (about 2 rounded tablespoons) of sea salt to about 1 liter/4.25 cups of cold water in a non-reactive container (such as stainless steel, glass, or ceramic). Mix to dissolve the salt. Multiply this amount as needed to completely submerge your clams, and allow them to sit in a cool place for at least 2 hours, or overnight in the fridge. The clams will release any sand or grit during this time.
35 grams of sea salt per 1000 grams of water—multiply as needed to submerge clams and let purge for at least two hours or overnight in the fridge or a cool place.
Check out our time lapse video of cherrystone clams purging this way over the course of 2 hours in this post.
Once you get the fresh, live clams, this stir fried clams in black bean sauce is a quick and easy dish to make, so let’s get this party started.
Clams in Black Bean Sauce: Recipe Instructions
Before you do anything, make sure that your clams are washed thoroughly.
Pour in the Shaoxing wine around the perimeter of the wok, and immediately cover it.
Cook until the clams begin to open. At this point, the liquid in the wok should be boiling and generating steam when the wok is covered.
The time for the clams to cook and open up depends upon the size and type of the clams you are using and how hot you can get your stove. Once a good number of them have opened, remove the cover and give everything a stir.
Add more slurry if needed to further thicken the sauce. Again, discard any clams that have not opened because it probably means they weren’t alive before you cooked them. Better safe than sorry!
Stir in the chopped cilantro, and gently toss the mixture so the sauce coats the clams.
Serve your stir-fried clams in black bean sauce immediately!
Stir-Fried Clams in Black Bean Sauce
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh clams (scrubbled/washed thoroughly)
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 4 slices ginger
- 3 cloves garlic (thinly sliced)
- 1 scallion (cut into 2-inch pieces)
- 1 long green pepper (sliced; you can de-seed if you like)
- 1 long red pepper (sliced)
- 1 tablespoon fermented black beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch (mixed into a slurry with 2 tablespoons water)
- 3 tablespoons cilantro (chopped)
- Before you do anything, make sure that your clams are washed thoroughly. There’s nothing more unpleasant than finding sand in your food. When your ingredients have been prepared and you’re ready to cook, heat the oil in your wok over high heat. Add the ginger and allow it to caramelize (about 20 seconds), taking care not to burn it.
- Next, add the garlic, scallion, peppers and fermented black beans, and stir fry the mixture for about 10 seconds. Add the clams. Pour the Shaoxing wine around the perimeter of the wok, and immediately cover the wok. Cook until the clams begin to open. At this point, the liquid in the wok should be boiling and generating steam when the wok is covered. The time for the clams to cook and open up depends upon the size and type of the clams you are using and how hot you can get your stove. Once a good number of them have opened, remove the cover and give everything a stir.
- Stir in the sugar, sesame oil, pepper. Discard any of the clams that didn’t open. Now taste the sauce. If it’s not salty enough, you can add a little bit of soy sauce. Once your satisfied with the flavor of the sauce, add about half of the corn starch slurry to the liquid in the wok and stir. Add more slurry if needed to further thicken the sauce.
- Stir in the chopped cilantro and gently stir the mixture so the sauce coats the clams.
- Serve immediately.