Clams in Black-Bean Sauce


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • They serve


    as a main course with rice

Appears in

The Key to Chinese Cooking

By Irene Kuo

Published 1977

  • About

These clams are stir-fried in their shells with high seasonings and then steam-cooked briefly until the shells open.


  • 24 very small littleneck or cherrystone clams


  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1-inch knob peeled ginger, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large whole scallion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 heaping tablespoon fermented black beans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • Β½ teaspoon sugar
  • Β½ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 4 teaspoons water with 2 teaspoons sesame oil


Soak the clams in lightly salted water with a clean nail for 2 hours to extract any sand. Scrub the shells and rinse well.

Heat a wok or large, heavy skillet over high heat until hot; add the oil, swirl, and heat for 30 seconds. Splash in the chopped garlic, ginger, scallions, and black beans, and stir rapidly until they exude their heavenly aromas. Add the clams and stir for 1 minute. Sprinkle in the soy sauce, sherry, and sugar; stir; then pour in the water. Cover immediately and steam-cook vigorously over medium-high heat for about 4 minutes, until all the clams have opened.

Uncover, give the dissolved cornstarch a big stir, and pour into the sauce, stirring until it is smoothly thickened. Scoop the clams and sauce into a serving dish and garnish with some chopped coriander or parsley.


  • Fresh coriander or parsley