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Reel Time Fishing Northwest

Mark Yuasa covers fishing and outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.

June 13, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Keep clam as Chef Tom Douglas serves up a tasty clam recipe with an asian panache


Another low-tide series is coming this week, and that means many open beaches of Puget Sound and Hood Canal will be fair game to shellfish gatherers for a variety of prized steamer littleneck clams. Plenty of other extreme low tides are coming this summer if you miss this one.

Renowned Seattle chef and restaurateur Tom Douglas knows the perfect seafood recipe with an Asian flair.

Douglas is contributing some of his recipes for the Reel Time Fishing blog. Each will be related to the Catch of the Week, which will appear regularly on Wednesdays through October, along with recipes from other local chefs, and owners of tackle shops and fish markets.

Douglas is owner of Lola, Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge, Dahlia Bakery, Etta’s, Serious Pie Downtown, Seatown, Brave Horse Tavern, Cuoco, Serious Biscuit, Serious Pie Westlake and Ting Momo.

Wok-Fried Clams with Chinese Black Beans

From Tom’s Big Dinners Cookbook by Tom Douglas


(Makes about 3 to 4 servings, and serve the clams with plenty of steamed white rice.)

Ingredients for the Black Bean Sauce

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons peanut or vegetable oil

1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch squares

1 teaspoon minced garlic

2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons Chinese fermented black beans, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon Chinese chili garlic sauce

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons cold water

Ingredients for the clams

1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil

2 1/2 pounds small steamer clams, scrubbed and rinsed

4 scallions, root ends and tough green ends trimmed, split in half lengthwise and cut into 2-inch lengths


To make the black bean sauce, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a saute pan over high heat. Add the bell pepper and sear until wilted and slightly blackened in a few places, about 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and using a tongs or slotted spoon, transfer the pepper to a bowl. Return the pan to medium high heat and add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil.

Add the garlic, ginger, and black beans, and sauté a few minutes, stirring. Add the rice wine or sherry, soy sauce, chili sauce, and sugar and bring to a boil for one minute.

Add the dissolved cornstarch and simmer, stirring, until the sauce thickens, about one minute.

Remove from the heat. The sauce will be very thick at this point, but later the clam juices will thin it. Scrape the sauce into the bowl with the bell pepper and set aside.

Put 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large pot and set it over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the clams, cover the wok with a lid, and cook over high heat, shaking the wok occasionally, just until the clams open, about 4 minutes.

As soon as the clams open, remove the wok from the heat. Holding the lid over the wok to keep the clams back, pour as much of the clam juice as you can into a large heatproof measuring cup.

Reserve 1/2 cup of the clam juice and discard the rest or save for another use. Return the wok to high heat and add the 1/2 cup clam juice, the black bean sauce, and the scallions.

Cook uncovered, shaking the wok or stirring with a rubber spatula to distribute the sauce evenly, just until the sauce bubbles and thickens, about two minutes.

Pour the clams into a large shallow bowl and serve.

Some final notes before trekking to your favorite beach

Upcoming low tides are: Saturday, -0.5 at 9:48 a.m.; Sunday, -1.0 at 10:20 a.m.; Monday, -1.5 at 10:53 a.m.; Tuesday, -1.8 at 11:28 a.m.; Wednesday, -1.9 at 12:03 p.m.; June 21, -1.9 at 12:40 p.m.; June 22, -1.6 at 1:19 p.m.

Check the state Fish and Wildlife website at Also check the Department of Health website for beach closures and red tide updates at or call 360-236-3330 and the shellfish safety hotline at 800-562-5632.

Before heading out to beaches also call the fisheries emergency shellfish rule-change hotline at 866-880-5431.

(Photo by Seattle Times photography staff)



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