Happy Chinese New Year! Today is not only Australia Day but also Chinese New Year. Luckily we got the day off so I can experiment with some Chinese cooking. Usually we do Chinese New Year dinner with family at some big seafood restaurant but this year we’re kind of on our own. So to keep in the usual seafood theme, I made a Cantonese style clam & shrimp dish on top of fried vermicelli rice noodles. This is my ode to Chinese cooking, which I normally say I don’t do that well since my mother is so much better at it. This dish takes a bit of prep and a quite a few steps but it’s totally worth it!
And since it’s a bit long, you’ll have to read the details after the jump!
2 small packets of dried rice vermicelli
20 ish clams, scrubbed and washed (or about a pound worth)
5-7 fresh jumbo shrimps, cleaned, deveined & peeled
1 tablespoon of grated fresh peeled ginger
3 French shallots – thinly sliced
3 stalks of green onion – cut into 2 inch sections
2 red chillies – chopped fine (use less if you prefer less spicy)
3 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
handful of cilantro (leaves and stem) – finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
White Wine (I used a cheap sav blanc I had in the fridge)
Rice wine vinegar
Fresh ground pepper
Step 1: The Prep
Rice – this will be the perfect time to make rice in a rice cooker or pot. It’s simple, 1 cup of jasmine rice to 1 cup of water.
The rice vermicelli noodles – soak in warm water for about 15 minutes, drain and soak in warm water for another 15 minutes. It should be translucent now, drain and set aside.
The clams – scrub and wash them and then keep them drained in a bowl nearby for later.
The shrimps – washed, peeled and deveined. If you bought fresh shrimps with the head on, you can peel them, leave the tail for looks and when you break off the head, you will be able to see the poo vein and just pull on it. Wash and drain. Place in a bowl with the shrimp marinade: 1 tablespoon garlic paste, 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Mix it around and set it aside for later.
The green onions – slice into 2 inch sections and place in a dish for later, this will be used last.
The garlic, shallots & ginger – you can put these all together in a dish.
The chilies – BE CAFEFUL! Use gloves if you’re sensative to cutting chilies. Chop fine and keep in a separate dish for later.
The cilantro – do this last! wash, pat dry and finely chopped and set aside for the garnish!
Step 2: Fry the noodles!
Now that we’re all prepped, cooking won’t take that long! In a medium to large wok, warm up some vegetable oil (about 2 -3 tablespoons) on medium-high heat. Woks heat very quickly so get ready to work fast! Once the oil is ready (you’ll know when a drop of water sizzles away in a second!) GENTLY but quickly throw in the noodles. IT WILL SPLATTER! Be very careful when you’re doing this, use long tongs or really big chopsticks! Stir it around to get the noodles coated in oil and then gently pour in 1/2 cup of water. This will help cook the noodles and bring it to the right consistency. Stir constantly. Pour in about 2 – 3 dashes of soy sauce and stir some more. Let the noodles cook till crispy on the bottom, flip and cook a little bit more until crispy. You’re looking for the ends and the top and bottom layer to be crispy but the rest of the noodles still noodley! Place the noodles in a platter and we’re on the to the clams!
Step 3: The clams!
Okay, with the wok you just used for the noodles, return to the medium-high heat and add in another 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once heated, toss in the freshly grated ginger, sliced shallots and chopped garlic. Mix around to get the flavors working. Now, throw in a couple splashes of rice wine vinegar and a couple splashes of soy sauce. Now throw in the red chilies and let that mixture simmer for a little bit. While it’s starting to bubble, stir in about 2 tablespoons of oyster sauce and then toss in the clams! Once the clams are in, pour in about 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of white wine. Stir to make sure all the bits and pieces are mixed and let that reduce while the clams cook. Turn down heat to medium, let that simmer and stir occasionally to get the clams mixed. Clams are cooked when the shells are opened, time will depend on what size of clams you used but it took me about 4 – 5 minutes for all of them to open. Pour that entire mixture, sauce and all, on top of the vermicelli!
Step 4: The shrimps!
After plating the clams and sauce on the noodles, return the wok back to the heat and turn it back up to medium-high. Pour in about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. It shouldn’t take more than 10 seconds for that to heat up, now throw in the shrimps and chopped green onions. Cook shrimps on each side for about 1-2 minutes or until cooked through – should be pinkish white and firm. Now pour the shrimps and green onions on top of the clams! Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and we’re ready to eat!
Serve family style with rice and some steamed veggies.