Aside from having two successful food blogs and being an expert on all things Malaysian, Bee is a genuinely nice person whom I had the pleasure to meet a couple weeks ago. I’ve been a big fan of Rasa Malaysia since I first started blogging and her newest blog Nyonya Food is a growing compendium of tastes and traditions from her homeland. I was thrilled when she agreed to write a guest post, but I started drooling when she sent me a preview pic of the this dish.
A few weeks ago, I met Marc and the Zen of Zen Can Cook in New York City. We had so much fun and shared deep conversations about food, blogging and our dreams over a delicious yakitori dinner. After I came back, Marc invited me to guest post on No Recipes and I gladly said yes as Marc was kind enough to write a post on Rasa Malaysia a while back. So, this is my “payback” time! *wink*
For my guest post, I choose a classic Malaysia street food dish: curry-flavored grilled clams. I was born and raised in Penang, Malaysia– the food Mecca and the capital of street food in Malaysia, if not the region. Throngs of tourists from all over the world come to Penang for its legendary street food (known locally as “hawker food”)– hot dishes, snacks, and small bites sold by vendors at hawker centers, kopitiam (local coffee shops), or mobile pushcarts.
Grilled curry clams are often sold by ikan panggang (grilled fish) vendors. The setup is pretty basic: a big and hot flat griddle for grilling fish/seafood and a gas burner. The fresh bounty is displayed at the stall and diners pick their desired fish or seafood, and the vendor will then place the seafood on top of banana leaves and grill it on demand. The tempting aroma of burnt banana leaves and the smoky fragrance of cooked seafood are simply delectable and always set my mouth watering.
Now that I live in the United States, I would always recreate my favorite street food dishes whenever I have cravings. Making authentic Malaysian food in my tiny American kitchen has been quite challenging (my smoke alarm goes off every time I cook!), but I manage to make it work. I grilled these curry clams over my gas stove, using a deep pan (as pictured) or a flat griddle, and I have myself some scrumptious grilled curry clams in less than 30 minutes. The best part? You need only a few ingredients to make this dish.
Malaysian Curry Clams
1 1/2 lb. Manila clams
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 1/4 tablespoons seafood curry powder
1 tablespoon Malaysian Lingham’s hot sauce
1 teaspoon oyster sauce or to taste
A few sheets of fresh or frozen banana leaf (rinsed and wiped clean and dry with paper towels)
Rinse clams with cold water thoroughly, scrub the shells, drain the water, and set aside.
Heat up the pan on medium heat and add a little cooking oil to coat the surface. Lay the banana leaves on top of the pan. Add the remaining cooking oil onto the banana leaves, add clams into the pan and start stirring. As soon as the clams start to open, add curry powder, hot sauce, oyster sauce and stir well with the clams. Cover the pan with its lid and cook for a few minutes or until all clams are open.
Dish out and serve immediately.
The banana leaves will be burnt when the clams are cooked, but that’s the essence of this dish as burnt banana leaves impart an impossibly earthy and tantalizing aroma to the clams.