Bill and the kids and I went to our favorite Asian market recently to stock up on a few things and get ingredients for a couple of meal ideas Bill had been kicking around. Part of the fun of shopping there (besides the fabulous butcher, “Tommy” who talks fishing with Bill) is finding and trying out new and different ingredients. Sometimes we’ll just see something and buy it, figuring we’ll find a use for it eventually.
This time around, while the kids were searching for chicken feet in the poultry section (yes, really), I noticed bags of these noodles on an aisle shelf nearby. I saw that these were made from potato starch, rather than bean starch, and they were kind of gray in color, and, well, they just looked cool.
So I had to get them.
Now, we’ve bought and used cellophane noodles, or mung bean threads, or glass noodles, before. They’re commonly used in soups, and I found another use for them back in June.
I didn’t do anything with them that day, but the next day I decided to use them with some leftover clams in a Thai broth that Bill had made. I also added a bit of shrimp, too.
But first, let’s get a better look at the noodles.
See? They really are gray. I think they’re pretty.
There were four…sections?…skeins?…bundles?…of the noodles, and I used two.
I set a pot of water on to boil, and while that was going on I warmed up the sauce Bill had made the day before. It’s got diced chili peppers, lemon grass, fish sauce, lime juice, and I don’t know what else in there. (Actually, I do know – the recipe will be at the end of the post.)
I removed the small whole clams he’d steamed in the broth and cut them up into smaller pieces, more like what you might get in a clam sauce. Then, when the sauce was warmed up and slightly bubbling, I added in some raw shrimp and, once they’d cooked, I added the chopped clams back in.
I turned the heat off while I cooked my noodles.
Now, according to the package, I was only supposed to put the noodles in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain them and rinse in cold water to halt the cooking process.
But, in hindsight, I think that mostly applies to noodles that you’ll be putting into a hot soup later.
I cooked the noodles for about 2 minutes, drained them, and was ready to pour sauce over them when Bill sampled one.
“They’re not cooked through.”
I tried one. He was right, of course. They were still al dente, which is fine with Italian pasta, but not so great with these.
Back the noodles went into the boiling water for another three minutes or so.
Here’s how they looked.
Aren’t they cool??
Well, I think so, anyway.
I poured the Thai seafood and sauce mixture over the top and brought the bowl to the table.
The nice thing we noticed was that the noodles soaked up the flavorful broth pretty quickly and the whole dish, though not conventional, I suppose, worked very well.
Here’s the recipe for the clams and the sauce.
You don’t HAVE to use potato starch noodles if you don’t want to – you could use any kind of noodle – rice or bean or wheat or whatever. You could serve it over rice. Over mashed potatoes. Or you could just eat the clams and broth on their own. The original recipe that this is based on was for a steamed mussel and Thai herb appetizer.
So here we go:
Steamed Clams with Thai Herbed Broth
1 lb small, hard shell clams (little necks) (you could use mussels…or oysters, or other smallish mollusk)
1 lemongrass stalk, finely chopped
2 shallots, chopped
2 kaffir lime leaves, torn
1 red chili, sliced (if you want it spicier, use 2)
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 scallion, chopped
Rinse the clams if they need cleaning.
Place the clams and everything else, except the scallion and cilantro, in a large pot and mix together well.
Cover the pot and steam for about 5-8 minutes. Time will depend on the size of the clams, the thickness of the shells, and how cold they were to begin with. You don’t want to overcook them, so start checking at 5 minutes and remove when the shells have opened.
Transfer the clams and resulting broth to a bowl to serve as an appetizer, or pour over noodles or rice to serve as a meal.
Garnish with chopped scallion and sprigs of cilantro.