Clams in Chili-Cilantro Oil


I made this wild clam with chili-cilantro oil dish to celebrate a milestone today – my 6-year-old’s first bike ride on a two-wheeler! It only took us 30 minutes to teach her to ride sans training wheels, and in no time, she was cruising on her own! We are so very proud of her!

Please indulge me a little here. I’ve been having a few “proud mama” moments lately with my eldest child. Like last week, her teacher told us that in order to get to Grade 1 from Senior Kindergarten (where she is now), you’d have to be reading at Level 6, at least. Then he told us that our daughter is actually on Level 21, which is a Grade 2 to Grade 3 reading level. (Insert another proud mama moment smile here). The teacher also brought up the fact that our daughter may be considered for the “gifted program” down the road – an enriched program for students identified as “gifted.”

I really have no expectations whatsoever. Whether she goes into the gifted program or not, I am absolutely proud of her achievements, no matter how big or small! She’s such a good kid, with a kind heart and an endearing spirit. A mother couldn’t be any prouder.

Speaking of a kind heart and endearing spirit, I always see clams as being that way. For those who are curious, clams are bottom-dwelling filter feeders that help keep our bodies of water clean. See that about being kind-hearted?

So, when you buy fresh wild or farmed clams, be sure to soak them in cold tap water first – this encourages the bivalves to expel their dirt. Then scrub their outer shell, one-by-one, to ensure that any sand that clings to their shell are washed off. Nothing kills the appetite more than biting into gritty, sandy clams!

It’s nice to know that clams have low levels of mercury (especially the farmed ones), so one can enjoy them at least once or twice a month. And unlike other types of seafood, they don’t require antibiotics or growth hormones or artificial feed. In fact, clams are almost always sustainably farmed, harvested by hand with a rake-like tool. The only thing to caution for are the “red tide” phenomena, but these are closely monitored by environmental agencies, who release warnings to fisheries / hatcheries and consumers.

Clams are a rich source of iron, even compared to high-iron meat options like liver and beef, according to the David Suzuki Foundation. They are good choices for protein, calcium, zinc, vitamin B, and omega-3‘s. Some Asian cultures consider clams as a galactagogue (helps with milk production for nursing), although there are no official studies to prove this as of yet.

For a wonderfully simple yet delicious meal, follow the recipe below!

5.0 from 8 reviews
Clams in Chili-Cilantro Oil
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe Type: Seafood, Main Course
Serves: 2 to 4
  • 60 ml (1/4 cup or 2 oz) any neutral vegetable oil like grapeseed or canola + more for cooking
  • a large handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 3 to 4 pieces small red Thai chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • a pinch of salt
  • 900 grams (2 pounds) farmed or wild clams
  • 5 slices on one-inch long sliced fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 250 ml (1 cup or 8 oz) Japanese sake or any dry white wine
  • 250 ml (1 cup or 8 oz) water
  • ½ teaspoon of shichimi togarashi (a 7-spice Japanese chilli powder)
  1. Prepare the chili-cilantro oil in advance so it has time to steep. In a small sauce pan, heat about ¼ cup of oil (or more, if you wish) until it is hot.
  2. Mix cilantro, red chillies, and salt in a heatproof vessel, then pour the hot oil in, giving it a quick whisk to finish. Let sit for 2 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare clams for cleaning. Tap open shells on any hard surface and discard those that don't shut - those are dead. Clean clams by soaking them in cold water for a few hours, then scrub and remove them one by one. Set aside in a large bowl.
  4. Heat some cooking oil in a heavy bottom pot over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the ginger slices, garlic, and shallot, then fry for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.
  5. Pour in sake or white wine, followed by the water, and bring to a full boil. Add the clams and stir for a few times. Close pot lid and let cook for 7 to 12 minutes, or until all or most of the shells are opened.
  6. Discard unopened clams and set cooked clams on a serving dish.
  7. Drizzle the reserved chili-cilantro oil on clams. It is best when this oil is still warm, so warm it up in a saucepan before drizzling.
  8. Sprinkle with shichimi togarashi.



  • Reply April 28, 2013


    Clams have never appealed to me for meat eaters but if I served this, there would be no holding back 😉

    Choc Chip Uru

  • Reply April 28, 2013


    We love clams! Too bad we don’t have a regular supply in the local grocery’s wet section. It’s usually just clam soup for us. I’d love to try this spicy version but it’s only me and J that can enjoy it this way. M loves clams too 😉
    Congratulations to G! What an achievement! Proud momma moments indeed!

  • Congrats on your little one’s achievements, in school and on the bike, yay! Hat’s off to you and your husband for the work you’re doing to raise good kids.

    So, I’ve been craving clams lately. Seeing these beautiful pics have just decided dinner tonight. Clams it will be! Loving all the flavors here!

  • Awww, how sweet! Yay to proud momma moments!! :) I am too chicken to make clams at home. Your dish is gorgeous!!! Pinning!

  • Reply April 28, 2013

    Tessa @ Feral Kitchen

    Fabulous recipe and gorgeous photos! I hope that you have many more proud mama moments!

  • Now I’m craving clams. I love the flavors you combined with them.

  • Congrats on the milestone for your son! I actually remember when I learned to ride a bike and that feeling that you could ride on two wheels – it was magical. Speaking of magical – your photos and this dish are magical. My hubby would absolutely LOVE this dish!!!! Happy Sunday!!

  • Aww! You go on with your proud mama moments! I’m not a mother but that stuff you wrote about? I’d be dying to tell everyone. :)

    I’m not big on clams but those are some pretty pictures! I never thought of clams as pretty before.

  • Congrats for all the wonderful proud “mama moments!” You have lots of reasons to be proud.

    And YOU should be proud for the gorgeous (as always) photos! :-) Seriously, delicious looking and sounding. Clams are not one of those things I frequently make, but this inspires me to do so.

    I did add it to our shellfish Pinterest board:

  • Reply April 28, 2013


    Congratulations on the achievements of your very sweet little ones!
    I love all the colors in this post Jen;-) I’m drawn towards the delicious plate of your yummy clams and the bright wild floral print of the fabric-all just beautiful 😉

  • Reply April 28, 2013


    No worries – you have every reason to be proud of your little one! Congratulations on her high reading level, must be from all the wonderful food you prepare! 😀

    I have never cooked with clams – oysters and mussels, but never clams. After seeing these beautiful photos, clams are all I can think about!

  • Reply April 28, 2013

    The Café Sucre Farine

    It sounds like you have a reason to be proud, congratulations to your daughter and to you as I know good training has everything to do with how kids turn out. You should also be proud of this delicious looking dinner, it’s beautiful!

  • Reply April 28, 2013

    Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    These clams look so tasty, this dish reminds me of one I loved in China! Wonderful mama moments :).

  • Reply April 28, 2013


    The mother of two now grown-up daughters myself [one of them also gifted] I felt fuzzy warm reading your story. Love, encourage and enjoy! Don’t know whether there are any Dalton-scheme schools in Italy: both of mine went thru’ the only one in Sydney for some 16 years each [kindy > matriculation] and so benefitted by being able to study basically at their own speed of development. Oh, the clams: love them and the recipe and have to check the fine details comparing our recipes :) !

  • Reply April 28, 2013

    Cass @foodmyfriend

    Congratulations! What a great thing to celebrate. I still remember going from training wheels to just 2. Scary stuff but it is true what they say about never forgetting how to ride a bike!

  • Reply April 29, 2013

    suzanne Perazzini

    Yummy dish. You should take and celebrate all the proud mama moments you can. What a fantastic reading level and only half and hour to ride on 2 wheels? That’s very quick.

  • Reply April 29, 2013


    It’s nice to see my favourite shellfish here. Love the recipe

  • Reply April 29, 2013

    The Squishy Monster

    Congrats on being a super-mama! I bet it’s all the delicious and nutritious foods + great genes that gave way to such good and smart children! I can imagine how proud you are and you’re definitely a mom to aspire to be like!!!

  • Reply April 29, 2013

    wok with ray

    These are like gems in a plate – beautiful and delicious! Another “a must share!” :)

  • Reply April 29, 2013


    Aww you daughter is growing so fast! All accomplishments, big or small, are worth celebrating and she’s lucky to have such a good cook as a mother! I didn’t know that clams were so nutritious! It’s hard to believe considering they are so small.

  • Reply April 29, 2013


    Oh my… these little clams look fabulous!

  • Reply April 30, 2013

    Sandra's Easy Cooking

    Congrats mama…what a happy post!I have many moments like that and it’s a wonderful feeling inside and out. I am not fan of clams (shock* I know, right…there is something that I don’t like LOL!) but oh boy look at those picture–stunning! My hubby would love this. I wish you relaxing evening

  • Reply April 30, 2013

    Amy (Savory Moments)

    These clams look seriously delicious! I love all the fresh flavors and colors you’ve incorporated into this dish!

  • Hi Jen! How’re you? It’s been awhile I had the chance to read up on all my fav. blogs. Whenever I need a pick me up, your blog just inspires me and makes everything seem better. Love Clams with the chili and cilantro combo. A spritz of lemon or lime juice is a piece of bread is perfect to go with this lovely dish. See? I am already imagining how I would like to devour this? Heheheh.. Have a great week and awesome clicks as always. ♥ ♥ Jo

  • Love proud mom moments!! Congrats to your daughter on all her accomplishments. These clams look like a great way to celebrate!

  • Reply May 1, 2013

    Lora @cakeduchess

    Congrats…I remember when my daughter was in kindergarten (seems like yesterday and now she’s as tall as me!). Your spicy clams are making me hungry, Jen. Cilantro and chili-yes!!

  • Congrats on such milestones as a proud mama! Such sweet little angels :)

    And what best way to celebrate with this deliciousness!!

  • I love shellfish! And this looks like a marvellous way to have clams! Will definitely try this :) Over here it is considered a galactagogue, along with malunggay (moringa) leaves…I remember how my mother in law would make me a soup with clams and malunggay while I was nursing :)

    Congratulations to your kids!

  • Reply May 3, 2013


    I make chili garlic oil very frequently and have used it on several snack bites plus noodle. But with clams I can see how wonderful it would blend. I can’t wait to try this out!

  • Kids grow up so dang fast!!! My little brother sprouted from a two year old to a twenty year old like that!

    These clams… gah! I need a bowl right now.

  • HMMMMMMM!!!! I can have these clams endlessly! Looking at the ingredients list, I’m already a huge fan. Must go buy fresh clams…good ones! My kids also started riding without training wheels not a long ago, and now WHOLE family bought new bikes. We’ve been biking every weekend as a family. Wish you guys live near so we can do bike playdate!

  • Reply May 11, 2013

    Karen Swain

    Love the recipe!! My husband digs clams for a living and a good clam digger washes his clams well and soaks them in the salt water so they will expell that gritty sand before you buy them. He loves his job, the outside work and the wonderful smell of the ocean on the Bay of Fundy! To everyone, enjoy those clams!!!!

    • Reply May 12, 2013


      Karen, how awesome that your husband digs clams! I salute him for doing what he does and keeping our ocean in great shape! It’s nice to know that people still actually do this by hand or with a hand tool – not with machinery!

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  • Reply May 28, 2013


    I’m so happy to have found your blog! It’s so gorgeous! This dish just caught my eye…it is so beautiful and colorful. I adore clams and this dish, with these bold flavors is my kinda thing! :) Looking forward to making this soon!

  • Reply July 2, 2013


    Absolutely divine!

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