This Steamed clams with Thai basil and lemongrass is super quick and easy to make with minimal prepping. It is packed with delicious flavors and irresistible aromas.
Bored with steamed clams in garlic butter? Or need a dish that can transport you back to Southeast Asia immediately? Definitely give this clams with Thai basil and lemongrass a try.
Succulent and briny clams are infused with the bold yet sweet flavor of Thai basil and the crisp and citrusy aroma of lemongrass. Add a few slices of bird’s eye chili to make it even more exciting.
This steamed clam dish is very popular in Vietnam. We call it “nghêu hấp sả lá quế“. I love the flavor combination as well as how colorful the final dish looks. Watch how quick and easy it is to make it in the video below.
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The three main ingredients for this dish are clams, Thai basil and lemongrass. You can also add two more ingredients for extra tastiness: garlic and bird’s eye chili (or red pepper flakes).
In the US., you can use littlenecks, cherrystones, steamers and manila clams for steaming. Generally, just choose the types of clams that are briny, not too small and not too large. You may need to soak the clams in salt water to purge sand and scrub them before cooking.
How to Steam Clams
When it comes to steaming clams, it’s important not to overcook them, or they will become rubbery instead of juicy and succulent. With this particular dish, you will need to sauté aromatics first and then add the clams. Cover and steam just until they start to open.
Once the clams have opened, add Thai basil leaves, give everything a good stir and remove from the heat right away. Though Thai basil stands up to cooking better than sweet basil, it still wilts fairly quickly. That’s why we add it at the end of cooking.
Please find detailed list of ingredients and instructions in the recipe card below. This Vietnamese steamed clams recipe takes just 10 minutes to make, and it is an excellent appetizer for everyday meals as well as special occasions.
Other Seafood Recipes to Try
I’d love to hear what you think about the dish, so please feel free to leave a comment and a rating if you have tried it. New recipes are added every week so let’s connect on Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest and Instagram for the latest updates. You can find my collection of Vietnamese recipes here.
Steamed Clams with Thai Basil and Lemongrass
- 3-4 lemongrass stalks
- cooking oil
- 5-6 garlic cloves, lightly smacked
- 2 lbs clams, scrubbed
- a pinch of salt, optional
- 1 bird's-eye chili, thinly sliced, optional (or a pinch of red pepper flakes)
- 2/3-3/4 cup packed Thai basil leaves (about 1-1.5 oz)
- Discard the outer dry layer of lemongrass stalks and cut off the bottom bulb. Then slice them thinly on a bias.
- In a deep skillet (or a large pot) over medium heat, add cooking oil and sauté lemongrass and garlic cloves briefly until fragrant (about 30-45 seconds).
- Add clams to the skillet, then add a pinch of salt, chili (or red pepper flakes) if using and a couple tablespoons of water. Give everything a stir (you may need to raise the heat slightly), then cover and steam until the clams start to open, about 2-3 minutes.
- Stir the clams and once all the clams open up, add Thai basil leaves. Give everything another stir and turn off the heat right away. Transfer to serving plates and serve immediately.