Vietnam is surrounded by seas and filled with rivers bringing with it an abundance of freshwater and saltwater seafood. Last week, Thai-Anh took you on her weekend in Phu Quoc where seafood is cooked in its most simplistic form to highlight the freshness and taste of the sea. One of the easiest dishes to make that she had while staying in Phu Quoc was grilled clams with herbs. Like most Vietnamese cuisine, this simple dish has a melodic combination of herbs, crunchiness and of course, chewy clams. Here is our recreation of this classic and very easy dish from Phu Quoc.
2 pounds of any type of large shellfish (clams and oysters). Use the larger variety if you are putting them directly on the grill.
1 cup of culantro finely chopped (Culantro has long, serrated leaves and is used often in Caribbean, Mexican and Asian cooking.)
1 cup of cilantro finely chopped
1 cup of Thai basil finely chopped (i.e. Asian basil. It is a variety of sweet basil commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisines. It has a more pronounced licorice or anise flavor and is very fragrant.)
½ cup of crushed salted peanuts (Planters Salted Peanuts is a fast alternative. You will only need to crush them.)
½ cup of fried crispy shallots (You can find fried, crispy shallots in a plastic container at any Asian grocery store. If you are unable go to an Asian grocer, Fresh Gourmet Crispy Onions Lightly Salted is a good substitute from any American grocery store.)
1 cup of thinly sliced scallions
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup of vegetable or canola oil
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper for the dipping sauce
1/2 lime for the dipping sauce
a few limes to squeeze over the shellfish before serving
Prepare the shellfish
Use a brush and scrub the shellfish under cold water to get rid of any remaining dirt and sand. Put them on a plate for grilling.
Prepare the toppings
Make your scallion oil (you can store the scallion onions up to 7 days in the fridge).
Diced approximately 1 cup of scallions.
Heat up the 1 cup of oil before it reaches the boiling point.
Put in the minced garlic. Take it off the heat immediately afterward so the garlic do not burn.
Pour the oil over your sliced scallions.
Add a pinch of salt to the scallion oil and mix well.
Combine the culantro, cilantro and Asian basil into a bunch and lightly chop them to make it easier to top the shellfish.
Mix the salt and pepper with the juice from 1/2 of a lime to make a dipping sauce.
Put your shellfish on the grill and cook them until they open. When the shellfish starts opening up, take them off the heat. They will continue to open up when removed from the heat. You won’t get the overdone texture
Carefully take the shellfish off of the grill without spilling any liquid. Arrange them on a plate.
Arrange your other toppings in small bowls to garnish the shellfish.
Cube your butter (optional if you would like to add it for an extra velvety taste).
Put a small cube of butter onto the shellfish, follow up with your scallion oil, fresh herbs (culantro, cilantro and Thai basil), salted peanuts and fried shallots.
Enjoy this wonderful dish at any summer dinner or BBQ. We guarantee that it will be a huge hit as it was for three hungry teenage boys who were our taste testers.