Sunday, 17 November 2013

Stir-fried Clams in Black Bean Sauce (豉汁炒蜆)

I love the hour and a half I get on a Saturday, when I've dropped the eldest off at her class and I can just mooch about in town. It's my chance to get fish at the market and fruit and vegetables at my favourite greengrocer in Chester, Francis Thomas. Every 3rd Saturday, there is also the farmer's market outside the town hall, where you can usually fill up on some free samples of sausages, pies and cheese. All in all, a worthwhile trip!

Today I finally got round to buying some clams at the fishmonger. The children were fascinated by them, peering suspiciously inside the shells, and tapping them to make them close. They weren't brave enough to try them in the evening, which meant all the more for me. I used dried, fermented black beans in this recipe, but you can also use a few tablespoons of black bean sauce, which can be found in most supermarkets nowadays.



  • Approx. 700g clams
  • 1 spring onion, sliced diagonally into 1cm pieces
  • 2 tablespoons of dried, fermented black beans, rinsed
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1cm cube of raw ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (or use dry sherry as a substitute)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp cornflour, mixed with a little water
  • A few drops of sesame oil
  • A handful of coriander leaves, chopped
Serves 2



  • Place the clams in slightly salted water until you need them. It's probably worth refreshing the water a few times, to get rid of any grit in the clams. When you are ready to use the clams, drain them and scrub the shells well under running water
  • Rinse the dried black beans, and mash them with 1 tsp sugar
  • Heat a wok until very hot, and add the sunflower oil. Swirl the oil around the wok and throw in the ginger and garlic. Stir-fry for 10 seconds, then add the mashed black beans. Stir fry for 30 seconds until the mixture is aromatic
  • Add the spring onions and stir briefly, then add the clams to the wok and stir and turn them in the mixture, to ensure the black bean mixture coats each clam. Add the Shaoxing wine, Thai fish sauce and light soy sauce, and stir to combine. Add a few tablespoons of water if desired.
  • Put a lid onto the wok and boil the clams for 7-8 minutes, or until the shells are all opened. Shake the wok intermittently to mix the ingredients
  • Remove the clams with a slotted spoon or tongs, discarding any which have not opened. Place into a serving dish and keep warm in a low oven
  • Turn the heat up in the wok, and bring the black bean sauce to a boil. Add the cornflour/water mixture slowly and mix until you have achieved the desired consistency. Remove from the heat and add a few drops of sesame oil.
  • Pour the sauce over the clams and garnish with freshly chopped coriander. Serve immediately
Stir-fried Clams in Black Bean Sauce (豉汁炒蜆)


  1. Ooh, the clams with chilli and black bean sauce were the highlight of our trip to Hong Kong, so will definitely give this a whirl. We've got a great Chinese fishmonger up the road where I can buy anything and everything (well by, Edinburgh standards!)

    1. Thanks Sonja! Chilli is a great addition to this dish. Glad to hear you've got a decent fishmonger, we have one in Chester market but I can't get the more unusual stuff from him.