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Re-create David Thompson's Stir-fried clams with Chilli jam and Thai basil
Although small clams are the molluscs most commonly used for this dish, surf clams, scallops, mussels, prawns or even ﬁsh can be used in their place. I also rather like the combination of crispy roast pork and squid stir-fried together with chilli jam, but this is hardly street food.
Clams usually need to be purged of sand and grit by being left to steep in salted water overnight, although sometimes you can buy clams that have already been cleaned.
Most Thais will go to the market to pick up their chilli jam, where they can choose from many varieties: some extra hot, others with or without dried prawns. While commercial chilli jam is generally more acceptable then commercial curry pastes, homemade (see page 354) adds a real depth and quality to the ﬁnished dish.
500 g (1 lb) small clams
1–2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2–3 tablespoons chilli jam
2 kafﬁ r lime leaves, torn
1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and bruised – optional
good pinch of white sugar
1–2 tablespoons ﬁsh sauce – to taste
generous handful of Thai basil leaves
1 long red or green chilli, sliced, deseeded if desired
Purge the clams overnight in salted water, if necessary, then rinse and drain well. Heat the oil in a well-seasoned wok then add the chilli jam. Stir in the clams, along with the kaffir lime leaves and the lemongrass, if using. Simmer until the clams have opened, then season with the sugar and fish sauce – but be careful as the clams will be quite salty. You may also need to add a tablespoon or two of water to prevent the chilli jam from catching, especially if the clams are reluctant openers. Finish by stirring in the Thai basil and chilli. It should taste rich, slightly oily, sweet and salty, yet not too spicy. Serve with steamed rice.
Read more about Thai street food. David Thompson's Thai Street Food is published by Penguin this autumn.