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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chem Chép và Hến Nấu Xã với Lá Chanh (Boiled Mussels and Clams with Lemon Grass and Lime Leaves)

This year, we celebrated Father's Day with a barbecue. Obviously, most of barbecue dishes were seafood as my husband is a seafood fanatic.  I love preparing food with our homegrown organic vegetables and herbs; so Steamed Mussels and Clams with Lemon Grass and Lime Leaves, had to be one of the non-grilled dishes on the table.

The ingredients I used to enhance the flavor of mussels and clams were an array of fresh lime leaves and lemon grass, organically grown from our garden.  What I love about this dish is the unique scent of fresh, grassy-lemon citrus aroma with an earthy undertone. Our lime tree this year produces just a few limes but they are huge, juicy and beautiful.  I picked a handful of leaves to steam in the pot along with the shellfish; separately a  few limes and  tender young leaves were picked  from the tips of the new growth to make the savory dipping sauce.
This recipe is easy and fast to prepare and makes a great appetizer dish.
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RECIPE: Chem Chép và Hến Nấu Xã với Lá Chanh


For the Boiled Mussels and Clams
1 box of Mussels
2-3 pounds Clams 
3-4 stalls of Lemon Grass, cut into 3 segments, smashed the head of it.
A handfull of Lime or Lemon Leaves

For the Dipping Sauce
1 tablespoon finely chopped Lemon Grass Head
1 tablespoon finely chopped  Tender Young Lime or Lemon Leaves
1 tablespoon finely chopped Garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped Thai Chili Pepper
2 tablespoons Sugar
1/4 cup Lime Juice
1 tablespoon Fish Sauce
1 tablespoon Mussel and Clam Broth
Preparing Mussels 

Thoroughly clean and rinse mussels several times.  Remove mussel's beard by giving the beard a forceful tug with your fingers and pulling it away.  Remove and discard any shells that are open or broken and that do not close when tapped.
Preparing Clams -Thoroughly clean clam shells and rinse clams several times.
Boiling Mussels and Clams

Bring lime leaves, lemon grass and  a small amount of water just enough to barely cover  lime leaves and lemon grass to boil.  Mussels and Clams only need to be steamed in a tiny amount of water, due to the fact that when they open up during cooking and release their own juice, which makes a tasty broth or sauce. If too much water is used, the flavour of the broth will be diluted making it bland. 

Add mussels and clams and turn off the heat once it starts boiling again.  Mussels need only a few minutes of cooking, so therefore when adding them to other recipes, they should be added at the last moment, in order to prevent over-cooking. Over cooked mussels and clams are quite tasteless and rubbery.
Making Dipping Sauce 

In a small bowl, add all the dipping sauce ingredients. Mix it well.

How to eat it?  
Pour a teaspoon of sauce on a mussel or a clam.  Chew it down with a bottle of Smirnof Ice or liquor of choice.


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