Vietnamese Grilled Clams with Oyster Sauce and Peanuts


"This is the type of dish that made me fall in love with Vietnam's snail restaurants," says writer Matt Gross. "It's got everything that I associate with the best of Vietnamese food: fresh shellfish, pungent scallions, and meaty peanuts. When I learned it was all bound together by oyster sauce, I was ready to dance with joy—but actually, I was too busy eating to get up from my small plastic stool." In Vietnam, huge pen shell clams feature in this dish. Pen shells are not widely available in the U.S., but the effect is just as good with cherrystone clams, in-shell scallops, or mussels. Finely chopped and combined with a pungent mix of herbs, crispy fried shallots, and oyster sauce, then returned to their shells and grilled until bubbling, they're a delicious appetizer—especially when paired with a cold lager.

Vietnamese Grilled Clams with Oyster Sauce and Peanuts
Photo: Justin Walker
Total Time:
45 mins


  • 3 pounds cherrystone clams or 1 pound mussels, scrubbed

  • 10 scallions, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh rau ram (Vietnamese coriander) or cilantro

  • 1/4 cup packaged crispy fried shallots (such as Maesri)

  • 1/4 cup oyster sauce

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons finely chopped peanuts


  1. Preheat grill to high (450°F to 500°F). While grill preheats, fill a heavy-bottomed pot with water to a depth of 1 inch; bring to a boil over high. Add clams; cover and cook until shells open, 6 to 8 minutes, transferring clams to a baking sheet as they open. Discard any clams that do not open.

  2. Stir together scallions, rau ram, fried shallots, oyster sauce, oil, sugar, and pepper in a small bowl. Remove clam meat from shells, and coarsely chop. Discard top shells. Stir chopped meat into scallion mixture; spoon evenly into bottom shells. (If using mussels, spoon about 2 teaspoons scallion mixture directly onto meat inside each shell, leaving top shells intact.)

  3. Place prepared clams on unoiled grill grates; grill, covered, until scallion mixture bubbles, about 2 minutes. Carefully transfer to a platter; sprinkle evenly with peanuts, and serve.

Suggested Pairing

Light Vietnamese lager beer.

Related Articles