When I was in Singapore, I got a hot tip from the hotel concierge about a popular Malaysian diner that was off the beaten path and outside the city. They served lots of traditional Malaysian dishes, including this one, which they made with crab, instead of clams. However, the sweetness of clams with this sauce is a fantastic combination. A big bowl of these clams, the broth, some crusty bread for dipping, and a salad makes the perfect meal with very little clean up afterwards. Whenever we try to take this recipe off the menu at Street, it practically causes a riot.
2½ lbs. Manila clams in shells, scrubbed
¼ cup grated palm sugar* or packed dark brown sugar
2 tsp. oyster sauce
2 tbsp. dark soy sauce
Juice of 1½ limes
2 tbsp. each canola oil and chopped garlic
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 tbsp. cracked black pepper
4 tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter
10 fresh mint leaves
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
¼ cup fresh Thai basil or regular basil leaves
Sourdough bread, sliced 1-inch thick and toasted, for serving (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil, for serving (optional)
Lime wedges, for serving
1. Rinse clams in a large bowl under cold running water for 5 to 10 minutes to purge them of all sand and grit; drain.
2. Combine palm sugar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice in a small bowl; set aside.
3. Heat canola oil on high in a large sauté pan or skillet. Add garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, to release flavors. Do not let garlic brown. Add black pepper and clams. Add 1/3 cup water, cover immediately, and steam clams for 3 to 4 minutes or until they open. Remove any that do not open. Add oyster sauce mixture and stir well. Add butter, stir well, and pour clams into a large bowl.
4. Sprinkle with mint, cilantro, and Thai basil. Serve with sourdough toasts, brushed with olive oil, if desired, and wedges of fresh lime.
*Find palm sugar at well-stocked grocery stores and Asian or Latino markets.
Burmese gin thoke melon salad
½ small seedless watermelon (2½ lbs.)
½ ripe cantaloupe melon (1½ lbs.)
¼ ripe honeydew melon (1 lb.)
2 (3-inch) pieces young or regular fresh ginger, peeled and minced (1/3 cup)
¼ cup each toasted sesame seeds, lime juice (from 3 to 4 limes), and low-sodium soy sauce
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar
1¾ tsp kosher salt
1 cup dried green lentils
2 cups wide-flake unsweetened coconut
1¼ cups raw blanched peanuts
4 fresh kaffir (also called makrut) lime leaves, chopped
1. Trim rind from melons, remove any seeds, and cut into ½-inch dice. Place diced melon in a large mixing bowl.
2. Combine ginger, sesame seeds, lime juice, soy sauce, ¼ cup of olive oil, 2 tbsp. sugar, and ½ tsp. of salt in a separate bowl. Mix well and pour over melon. Toss, and let marinate at room temperature while you prepare the rest of the salad.
3. Add lentils and 4 cups cold water to a small saucepan set over high heat. Bring to a boil, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Add 1 tsp. salt and cook for 5 minutes, or until lentils are tender, but not mushy. Drain, rinse with cold water to chill, and then stir into melon mixture.
4. Combine coconut, peanuts, kaffir lime, 1 tsp. sugar, ¼ cup olive oil, and ¼ tsp. salt in a large sauté pan. Toast over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until coconut and peanuts have toasted, somewhat unevenly, to a golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
5. Stir together gently peanut mixture and melon mixture just before serving. Serve in a large bowl at room temperature.
Spiced millet puffs
MAKES 70 MINI PUFFS
These can be stored, airtight, for up to 2 days.
1 oz. (2 tsp.) unsalted butter
5 oz. (a generous ½ cup) marshmallows
1 tbsp. whole cumin seed
1 tsp. each whole fennel seed and black mustard seeds*
¼ tsp. each cayenne chili powder and ground turmeric
½ cup dried currants or raisins
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. chopped curry leaf* (optional)
3 cups puffed millet*
1. Cook butter over medium heat in a large skillet until frothy.
2. Add marshmallows. As they start to melt, push and stir with a rubber spatula so that they don’t burn or stick to pan bottom. Lower heat slightly, if necessary. When marshmallows are halfway melted, add cumin seed, fennel seed, black mustard seed, cayenne, ground turmeric, dried currants or raisins, salt, and curry leaf, and stir well so spices toast and mix with marshmallow.
3. Add millet to pan, turn off heat, and stir until all of the millet is mixed and evenly coated in spiced marshmallow mix.
4. Pour mixture into a bowl and immediately start rolling into very small balls. If mixture sticks to hands too much, dampen them slightly with cold water. Place balls in a bowl and serve immediately.
Canton ginger kick
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. vodka
6 oz. (3/4 cup) Domaine de Canton (ginger liqueur)
½ cup plus 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 (1-liter) bottle soda water or seltzer, chilled
1. Stir together ginger syrup, vodka, ginger liqueur, and lemon juice in a pitcher.
2. Divide among 6 (10-oz.) old-fashioned glasses filled with ice. Top off with soda water.
3. Spear a few slices candied ginger onto each of 6 wooden picks and add to drinks, then garnish with lemon wedges.