This citrusy broth is a twist inspired by the Thai favorite, tom yum soup. It has a coconut base rather than chicken broth and is flavored by garlic, ginger and lemongrass and finished with lime juice and fish sauce.
This citrusy broth is a twist on the Thai favorite, tom yum soup. The coconut base takes the place of chicken broth in this recipe. It’s flavored by garlic, ginger and lemongrass and finished with lime juice and fish sauce. This recipe calls for cockles or littleneck clams, however, mussels could also be substituted.
What’s the difference between Littleneck and Manila clams?
All hard clams are quahogs and the terms littlenecks, cherrystones and chowder clams describe the size of the clam. I typically opt for littleneck clams when eating clams steamed because I like their small size and they are widely available at stores. Littlenecks have a mild briny flavor and have extremely tender and juicy meat. Manila clams are also about the same size as littlenecks and have a thinner shell therefore having a higher meat to shell ratio. Use them interchangeably in this recipe.
Key Ingredients in This Recipe
Cockles – New Zealand cockles are actually a-closely related cousin of clams – they are saltwater bivalve mollusks and are a bit smaller than littleneck clams. They are typically imported from New Zealand, The cockles have a briny-sweet flavor. Use as you would any other small clam. Fun fact: they also last longer because of their thick shell – they can last up to two weeks rather than the short shelf life of other clams which is typically just a few days. Easily substitute littleneck clams in this recipe.
Lemongrass – Lemongrass adds a bright, lemony flavor to dishes. Fresh lemongrass is best for this recipe since it has a more complex flavor. Pre-packaged paste or dried lemongrass can be substituted if needed. Only the bottom yellow part of the lemongrass stalk is used in cooking, the top part is typically much too tough.
Thai Birdseye chili – Bird’s eye chilies or Thai chilies are small, pointy chili peppers that pack a punch. They add an intense heat with fruity flavor to dishes rating between 50,000 and 100,000 Scoville units. They can sometimes be difficult to find so I usually buy a large bag of them at my local Asian market. I store them in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag. It’s actuall easier to cut them when they are frozen.
Coconut milk – Coconut comes from the creamy liquid inside mature coconuts. While frequently used in place of dairy. It adda a subtle coconut flavor to this broth.
Chicken stock – Chicken stock is typically made from chicken bones as well as aromatics and vegetables while chicken broth is made with the meat. How does that affect their flavor? Chicken stock has a much richer, more robust flavor which comes from the collagen released from the simmering bones. On the other hand, chicken broth is much more mellow in flavor. I typically use chicken stock when cooking. Substitute the chicken stock with water if needed (though it takes away some of the flavor.)
How to Make Thai Lemongrass Coconut Clams
Sauté the aromatics. Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, add the canola oil and heat through. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and Thai chilies, sautéing until the garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Make the broth. Add the coconut milk and chicken stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce slightly thickens, about 15 minutes. Stir in lime juice and fish sauce.
Steam the clams. Add the clams and cover the pot, steaming until they open, about 8 minutes. Add clams and broth to a large bowl and garnish with the green onions and Thai basil. Serve immediately.
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