How to Cook Clams Korean Style

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Food is central to Korean culture. It’s part of the daily culture, offering rich flavors and healthy combinations that appeal to many palates. You do not have to travel to experience the flavors of Korea at home since many of the traditional ingredients are ones readily available at most supermarkets. Spices like red pepper flake, green onion, ginger, garlic, sesame, soy, bean paste and mustard combine with meat, seafood or vegetables usually served on a bed of grain, like rice. By using some of these basic flavors you can make Korean style clams quickly and easily.

Things You'll Need

  • Littleneck clams
  • Large bowl
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Vegetable scrubber
  • Sweet soy sauce
  • Chili pepper flakes
  • White or rice wine
  • Tablespoon honey
  • Teaspoon Korean mustard powder (optional)
  • Green onion, minced
  • 1 fresh chili pepper, seeded and chopped
  • Sesame oil or sesame chili oil
  • Sesame seed
  • Fresh ground ginger
  • Wok
  • Cooking rack
  • Rice
  • Choose your clams. Get clams as fresh as possible for the tastiest results. Different parts of the world put the title "littleneck" on a variety of clams including quahog clams (Mercenaria mercenaria) and pacific clams (Prothothaca staminea). All of them have commonalities, however, including being roughly circular and hard-shelled. Look for small to midsize clams, as they're less chewy. Tap the shells. If they snap shut you know the clams are alive and good to eat. Keep these refrigerated until you're ready to start cooking. You want 4 to 6 clams as an appetizer or 8 to 12 clams as a main dish.

  • Wash the clams. Prepare a large bowl of cold water with salt. Soak the clams in the water for a half hour in the refrigerator, then scrub them off with a vegetable scrubber. Rinse the clams with more cold water. This process removes residual sand from the shells so it doesn't end up in your finished dish.

  • Mix the sauce. You want enough liquid in the sauce to fill each cooked clam on the half shell, or about 1 teaspoon each. Korean food has a definite spicy profile. If you enjoy spicy food use more hot pepper flakes than your recipe suggests or substitute sesame chili oil for regular sesame oil. Warm this over a low flame while you steam the clams.

  • Steam the clams as follows. Fill the wok halfway up with water. Place the steaming racks onto the wok, followed by the clams. Leave a little space between each clam so they cook evenly. Bring the water to a full boil, then cover the wok. The clams should open in about 3 minutes, meaning they're ready to serve.

  • Serve your Korean-flavored dish. Arrange the clams on a small plate with a spoonful of sauce in each one if you're serving them as finger food. Or, for an entree, nestle them in a bed of brown rice.

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