Father’s day in the Argenplath family isn’t a huge deal – we don’t normally do anything too special except maybe have a slightly more seafood-y dinner at home. It’s hard to eat out with my parents sometimes because Argenplath Mama is a pretty good cook (I don’t know why I am not so good – probably spoiled by her cooking) and we always end up having the “I could do a better job” conversation in the car afterwards, so instead she goes out and buys a lobster and/or other seafood and whips up dinner. This year for Father’s Day we did have lobster but I wasn’t around to catch all the ingredients and measurements that went into the coconut cream sauce. It was delicious though!
However, lobster is not the focus of today’s post: We’re here to talk about the cooking process I did catch – Black Bean and Garlic Clams. As usual – all measurements are semi exact…
Argenplath Mama’s “I can do it better” Black Bean and Garlic Clams
- 3 lbs of Manilla clams
- Water (to cook your clams in)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 2 red chili peppers (dried or fresh – it’s up to you)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of black bean and garlic sauce
- 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with a little water
- Small handful of dried Chinese black beans (optional) [soak in a small bowl of water if you are planning to use these]
- Toss your clams into a large bowl and give them a quick wash/rinse with some cold water (top row of photos above). This is just to wash the sand off the shells (who wants to eat sand?).
- Boil some water in a wok or whatever you are planning to cook you clams in – just have enough water to cover your clams.
- Once the water is boiling, put your clams in until they open up all the way like in the bottom right photo above. As the clams open up, start fishing them out of the water – you don’t want them to get overcooked and rubbery.
- Before you throw away the water you cooked your clams in, just save a bowl of it for your sauce. Don’t ladle out the water from the bottom of the wok as that will be pretty sandy – it’s ok to save more water than you need, you can always dump it out later.
- Dump out the remaining water and wash your wok well to remove all traces of sand.
- Chop up the garlic and red chili peppers into small pieces.
- Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil into your freshly washed wok.
- Add in the garlic, red chili peppers and the optional black beans.
- Add the 1 1/2 tablespoon of black bean and garlic sauce.
- Add the clams to the party and give everything a quick stir fry.
- Ladle in a scoop and a half of the clam water. You want to be able to get your clams coated in sauce. Add in a little more if necessary. Give everything a good mix and then cover for 1-2 minutes.
- Finally add in the cornstarch mixture to thicken up the black bean and garlic sauce. If there isn’t enough sauce, just add in some more clam water until you’re happy with the amount that is in your dish.
So What Would Argenplath Pay?
When you go out to a Chinese restaurant and order clams, I *think* you get about 1lb for $10-$15, but someone else has done all the work for you. After watching Argenplath Mama though, this doesn’t seem like a complicated dish and I could probably handle it on my own (knock on wood). The cost of the homemade version is probably $13 with the majority of the costs being the clams, which were $10.50 (they were on sale at T&T for 2.99/lb) BUT there are ~3lbs of clams so it is a steal compared to the restaurant version.
In terms of flavor, I don’t find a huge difference between Mama’s version and the restaurant version, especially since the black bean and garlic sauce comes from a jar. I know some people would prefer not to use jarred sauces but sometimes it’s not worth the time and effort to make the same version from scratch, especially when you only use a tablespoon or two at a time.