Make this popular and easy-to-cook Malaysian lala clams stir-fried in a golden fragrant sauce (kam heong) often known as kam heong lala.
What is lala?
I heard this term a lot from fellow Malaysian and Singaporean friends. This is not a term I’m familiar with and we don’t use it in Indonesia. Lala is known as kepah in Indonesia.
Lala clams are thin-shelled clams and are widely available in Southeast Asia countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia.
Substitute for lala clams
I have no luck finding lala clams here. You can use Manila clams or littleneck clams (I used these).
What is kam heong?
Kam heong is the Cantonese words for golden (kam) and fragrant (heong). So the clams are stir-fried in kam heong sauce. The sauce is a fusion between Chinese, Indian, and Malay ingredients. Kam heong sauce usually uses dried shrimp. I didn’t use dried shrimp but I used fermented bean sauce (tau cheo) instead.
Kam heong sauce is multipurpose and can be used to stir fry other veggies, meat, or seafood as well.
How to clean clams
I’ve heard that farmed clams are usually cleaner and usually have been purged. I guess depends on where you get your clams from. The ones I got were farmed have been purged but I still soaked and cleaned them anyway.
1. Soak the clams in fresh cold water for 1 hour
Some people will add salt, some will add pepper, but I’ve read somewhere before that soaking in plain cold water will do too, which is what I did. You are welcome to add salt if you want
2. Pour off the soaking water
Look at what’s left behind in the soaking water
3. Briefly scrub the shells to get rid of dirt if any. Rinse with clean water and clams are ready to be used.
4. Discard any clams that have chipped or broken shells
5. The clams are ready to be used
How to cook kam heong lala clams
1. Preheat a large wok or saute pan. Add cooking oil. Stir fry garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 20 seconds or so.
2. Add shallots, lime leaves or curry leaves and stir fry for another 30 seconds,
3. Add the chili and stir fry for another 30 seconds.
4. Add the clams followed by curry powder and seasonings and stir to mix.
5. Add 1/4 cup hot water
6. Cover with a lid to let the clams steam-cooked for about 2 minutes
7. Uncover the lid and most of the clams should have opened up. Discard the ones that do not
8. Give the cornstarch slurry a stir and then pour into the wok and stir until the sauce is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve immediately
One of the things I like about cooking with seafood is that it is quick to make. A delicious and fragrant lala clams are on the dining table in no time.
Did you make this kam heong lala clams recipe?
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For baking/ kueh making: I highly encourage to weigh ingredients with a digital kitchen scale instead of using measuring cups as they are not very accurate especially when it comes to recipe that requires precision.GRAMS TO CUPS CONVERSION (UNSIFTED)
- 1 kg clams - Lala clams, Manila clams, littleneck clams
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil
- 1/4 cup hot water
To thicken the sauce:
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp water
Soak and clean the clams:
- I can only get littleneck clams and that's what I use for this recipe. I soaked the clams in fresh cold water for 1 hour and then pour off the soaking water and briefly scrub the shells to get rid of dirts if any. Rinse with clean water and clams are ready to be used. Discard any clams that has chipped or broken shells
- Mix the cornstarch with water and set aside. Preheat a large wok or saute pan. Add cooking oil. Stir fry garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 20 seconds or so. Add shallots, lime leaves or curry leaves and stir fry for another 30 seconds, then add the chili and stir fry for another 30 seconds. Add the clams followed by curry powder and seasonings and stir to mix. Add 1/4 cup hot water and then cover with a lid to let the clams steam-cooked for about 2 minutes
- Uncover the lid and most of the clams should have opened up. Discard the ones that do not. Have a taste on the sauce, it should be savory, slightly spicy with a hint of sweetness. Adjust to your preference. Give the cornstarch slurry a stir and then pour into the wok and stir until the sauce is slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and garnish with chopped cilantro leaves and serve immediately