Friday, April 11, 2008

Clam Sycee

Clam sycee originated in Shanghai, on the coast of eastern China. A popular New Year's dish, it symbolizes good fortune and prosperity, as the stuffed clams resemble the gold or silver bouillion originally used as money in China. Traditionally, the clams would be steamed before stir-frying or deep-frying, but I've cooked them in wine instead and combined the wine with the sauce for a bit of extra flavor.

Serves 4 to 6.

  • 2 dozen clams, such as littleneck or cherrystone
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine or dry sherry, divided
  • 1 slice ginger
  • 1 green onion, cut on the diagonal into thirds
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth or stock
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Salt, to taste

Use a stiff brush to scrub the outside of the clams under cold running water. Drain.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil, wine, 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or sherry, ginger, and green onion and the clams.
Cover and cook just until the clams open (about 10 minutes). Use a slotted spoon to remove the clams from the pan. Do not clean out the pan.

While the clams are steaming, mix the cornstarch and water into a paste. Combine the chicken broth, oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and sugar.

Shuck the clams, setting aside the shells for later. Mince the clam meat and combine with the ground pork. Stir in 1 tablespoon sherry, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and salt to taste.

Stuff this mixture into the clam half shells. Rub the cornstarch/water mixture paste over top. Reserve any extra cornstarch paste to add to the sauce later.

At this point you can either deep-fry or stir-fry the clams. If deep-frying, be careful to deep-fry only a few clams at a time, meat side up, sliding them carefully into the wok so that the oil doesn't splatter. Deep-fry until golden in color and drain on paper towels or a tempura rack if you have one. If stir-frying, place the clams in the wok with the meat side down. Stir-fry in 2 tablespoons heated oil until golden.

Add the sauce ingredients into the pan with the wine. Add the clams back to the wok and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Add any remaining cornstarch/water paste, stirring quickly to thicken. Serve hot.

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