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8 & $20: Clams in Thai Green Curry

Spice up some steamed littlenecks and ease into the evening with an off-dry Riesling
Red and yellow bell peppers add a burst of color to this flavorful take on steamed clams.
Photo by: Greg Hudson
Red and yellow bell peppers add a burst of color to this flavorful take on steamed clams.

Nicole Ruiz Hudson
Posted: September 26, 2017

Eight ingredients, plus pantry staples. That's all it takes to make an entire meal from scratch. Add in a good bottle of wine for less than $20, and you've got a feast for family or friends. That's the philosophy behind our "8 & $20" feature. We hope it adds pleasure to your table.

This tasty, comforting green curry dish is ready in less time than it takes in my city to order takeout delivered during the dinner rush. I made this on a recent evening at home for a visiting friend and my husband, and it ended up being a wonderful stress-free evening in. They both hung out in the kitchen with me as I cooked, and we all chatted as the curry simmered away.

Bell peppers and mushrooms are almost always available, making this a good year-round recipe, but you can substitute other seasonal vegetables as accompaniments to the clams. I used a store-bought Thai green curry paste to keep things as simple as possible; some people prefer to make their curry sauce a little sweeter by adding sugar, but I chose not to do so. All I needed was one pot for the clams and one to prep rice, so cleanup was a breeze.

Before cleaning the clams, check to make sure they are healthy by lightly tapping the shells of open clams on the counter or using your finger or a spoon. They should close fairly quickly—discard any that don’t or that are cracked. Place the healthy clams in a large bowl of cool water and let them soak for 20 minutes to an hour to release any sand they were holding onto. (You can do the rest of your prep in the meantime.) Transfer the clams to another bowl until you’re ready to use them; pick them out rather than pour them out, or else you might transfer over the grit that has sunk to the bottom. Scrub the exterior of each clam as you go.

We tried two white wines with the meal: a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and an off-dry Riesling from Washington. The refreshing Sauvignon Blanc worked well, as its green citrus flavors resonated with the similar notes in the dish.

However, we unanimously preferred the Riesling, from the Columbia Valley region, as it better matched the texture and the light sweetness of the coconut milk–based sauce while providing a soothing counterpoint to the hint of heat in the curry paste. Along with refreshing citrus elements, it also showed light peachy notes that added a layer to the food and helped enhance its tropical and spice flavors.

Clams in Thai Green Curry

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Approximate food costs: $35

Pair with an off-dry Riesling such as Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling Columbia Valley 2015 (86 points, $9)

  • 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
  • Cooking oil of your choice
  • 3 bell peppers, diced (I used a mix of red and yellow)
  • 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons Thai green curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 2 cans light coconut milk
  • 2 makrut lime leaves (you could also use lemongrass)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 to 2 1/4 pounds littleneck clams, cleaned

1. Combine 1 1/2 cups rice with 2 1/4 cups water in a pot (or follow ratio on package directions). Add a pinch of salt. Bring water to boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot and allow it to simmer for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the pot from heat. Fluff with a fork when ready to serve.

2. While rice is cooking, heat oil in a Dutch oven or a large pot, add the bell peppers and mushrooms and sauté until the peppers have softened most of the way through, about 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic, season with salt and cook for 1 or 2 minutes.

4. Add in the curry paste and ginger and stir well to combine. Stir in the coconut milk, makrut lime leaves, red pepper and salt to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes to allow it to thicken.

5. Add the clams to the pot and gently simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until they have opened. (Discard any clams that do not open.) Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve the clams over rice with a generous helping of sauce. Serves about 6.

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