- 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- A pinch of salt
- 1 stick of lemongrass, outer layer and hard stem removed, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 red chillies, finely chopped
- 2 heaped teaspoons nam prik pao (Thai roasted chilli paste)
- 400ml full-fat coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce, or more to taste
- 6 lime leaves, torn
- ½ teaspoon tamarind paste or concentrate
- 1kg fresh live clams
- A handful of Thai basil leaves (optional)
- Lime wedges, to serve (optional)
- Steamed rice or Thai noodles, to serve
- Heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan with a lid, set over a medium heat.
- Add the onion and salt and cook for about 8 minutes, until softened.
- Add the lemongrass, garlic and chilli, and cook for 1 minute, then add the nam prik pao and stir well.
- Shake the can of coconut milk well then add to the mixture with the fish sauce, lime leaves and tamarind (be careful not to add too much tamarind as it will overwhelm everything, given the chance). Gently bring up to a simmer, then taste – the broth should be spicy, savoury and tangy. Add more fish sauce, if needed, remembering that the clams will bring their own salty-sweetness in a moment.
- Increase the heat and bring the curry to a merry simmer. Tip the clams into the pan and cover with the lid. Cook for 3½ minutes, giving the pan a firm jiggle once or twice. Remove the lid and discard any clams that have remained closed. Stir through half of the Thai basil leaves, if using.
- Serve the clams and their wonderful curry broth in shallow bowls, with rice or noodles on the side. Top with the rest of the Thai basil leaves and give each diner a wedge of lime to squeeze over, and a spoon.
Recipe extracted from LEON Happy Curries by Rebecca Seal and John Vincent (€19.53) published by Octopus. Photography by Steven Joyce.
If you want to add vegetables, use sliced baby corn, canned bamboo shoots, fine ribbons of carrot, shredded greens or finely sliced peppers. They can all be added at the same time as the lemongrass and garlic.