In Asia, clams are rarely shucked to make soup. The reason is that the shells themselves are full of flavor. Think of shrimps. While shells are inedible, they are used for making shrimp broth. It’s the same with clams. If you want the tastiest broth, cook the clams in their shells.
While clams require only a few minutes to cook, they need to soak in water for several hours to give them time to expel grits trapped inside the shells and occasionally embedded in the muscles. Do not skip the soaking part.
Clam soup with ginger and chilies
- 600 grams fresh clams
- 2 shallots - or 1 large onion
- 2 thumb-sized pieces ginger
- 4 to 6 chilies - I used a combination of picante and Thai
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- patis - fish sauce to taste
- snipped cilantro - to garnish
- Rinse the clams in running water.
- Place in a bowl, cover with water and soak for several hours in the fridge, changing the water several times. The clams should open during the soaking time and expel any sand trapped inside the shells.
- Rinse again several times to make sure that the water runs clear and the clams are free from any traces of sand.
- Thinly slice the shallots or onion.
- Peel and thinly slice the ginger.
- Mince the garlic.
- Slice the chilies.
- Heat the cooking oil in a pot.
- Saute the shallots (or onion), ginger, garlic and chilies with a tablespoon of patis until fragrant and quite dry, about three minutes.
- Pour in about six cups of water.
- When the water boils, dump in the cleaned clams.
- Bring to the boil once more and allow to boil, uncovered for one minute.
- Turn off the heat.
- Season with fish sauce.
- Allow the clams to finish cooking in the residual heat for about three more minutes.
- Ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with snipped cilantro and serve hot.