I haven’t been traveling for a while, well, not since my trips to China and Malaysia last June and Hawaii in last August. I miss traveling a lot, mostly, I miss eating local foods and exploring local cooking styles. It’s amazing to me that even with the same ingredients, different places have their own signature ways of preparing the ingredients.
Even though Taiwan is not a huge tourist destination to most people, I love the place. I had been to Taipei a few times, and one of the things that I love most about the city is the many “百元小炒” Chinese food establishments. 百元小炒 means NT$100 (about US$3.20) stir-fries, which basically are popular and very affordable dishes served at Chinese restaurants. The restaurants that offer such specials are usually very humble in the appearance and set up—a shop house with a cashier counter, round tables and chairs, and a hot stir-fry kitchen (some visible and some don’t). 百元小炒 is a popular food culture in Taipei and the dishes are great for sharing with friends, late-night supper, and especially great with cold beer.
Whenever I go to Taipei, I would look out for restaurants that serve the NT$100 dishes. Unfortunately, in the recent years, they are harder to come by because foods are getting more expensive. Regardless, this Taiwanese-style clams is a typical 百元小炒 dish that I love. Well, you know, I always love clams.
Stir-fried with the basic Chinese seasonings of oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, rice wine, and infused with the spiciness of fresh red chilies, these clams retain the original briny sweet taste. This type of stir-fry is very homey, but hard to find in Chinese restaurants in Malaysia or the US, but in Taiwan, this is one of the most popular ways of preparing clams.
While Taipei is a long flight away, you can try making this Taiwanese-style clams at the comfort of your home. And yes, wash them down with a glass of cold beer, if you like.
1 1/2 lbs. Manila clams
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 inch ginger (peeled and cut into thin strips)
1 1/2 fresh red chilies (seeded and sliced into pieces)
2 stalks scallion (cut into 2-inch lengths)
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 tespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon rice wine
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons cooking oil
Clean and scrub the shell of the clams thoroughly. Rinse with cold water and drain.
Heat up a wok and add the cooking oil. When the cooking oil is very hot, add garlic and ginger and stir-fry until aromatic, and then follow by the red chilies and do a few quick stirs. Add the clams into the wok and stir a few times and cover with the wok’s lid. When the clams start to open up, add all the seasonings into the wok. Cover the lid again until most clams are open. Add the chopped scallions into the wok, do a few quick stirs, dish out and serve immediately.
There are many “species” of clams in Asia. You can use any of your favorite clams to make this dish.
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