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Clams with Black Bean Sauce

These tender Cantonese-style clams with bok choy in an earthy and savory sauce have a number of common Chinese flavors: the pungent taste of fermented, salted black beans, the tangy jolt of fresh ginger, the dryness of Chinese rice wine, the saline tang of shellfish.

  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 4

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  • 1/2 pound dried Chinese wheat noodles or tagliatelle
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for tossing
  • 1 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese oyster sauce
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large scallion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons fermented black beans, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
  • 2 pounds littleneck clams or cockles, scrubbed
  • 2 cups tightly packed, coarsely chopped bok choy leaves (from 1 medium head)


  1. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the noodles until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water and drain again. Toss the noodles with a little vegetable oil.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the chicken stock with the rice wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch, sugar and sesame oil.
  3. In a wok, heat the 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a wok until shimmering. Add the garlic, scallion, ginger, black beans and crushed red pepper and stir-fry over high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the red bell pepper and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the clams and stir-fry over moderate heat until most of them have opened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the coarsely chopped bok choy and stir-fry until wilted. Stir the sauce and add it to the wok. Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until the sauce thickens and all the clams are opened, about 1 minute; discard any clams that don't open. Add the noodles and toss well. Transfer to bowls and serve right away.

Suggested Pairing

Pair Chinese dishes like this one with an unoaked, fruity white wine; oak tends to make shellfish taste terrible, and fruity wines invariably balance salty foods. Try a white blend from California, such as one made from Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and other varieties.

Contributed By Photo © Matt Armedariz Published May 2008

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