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Malaysian Spicy 'Kam Heong' Bamboo (La La) Clams Recipe

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | Labels: , , , , , , |

After featuring dessert recipes for the past few posts, I thought it was time to bring out the smoky woks :O.  Today's feature is the uniquely Malaysian 'Kam Heong' method of cooking and if you've been around for a while, you may notice that yours truly is a big fan.  This is an extremely aromatic dish and is spicy, savoury and sweet at the same time so expect fierce flavours and clean plates, seriously not kidding, springy and fresh clams cooked in such fiery flavours make this seafood dish highly addictive.  I have to emphasize again though that you really have to use fresh curry leaves and not the dried variety as the unique fragrance is hardly present in the dried versions, fresh curry leaves are usually sold at Indian grocery stores as their namesake implies, they are used a lot in curries.  This dish combines Chinese, Indian and Malay culinary styles and ingredients in a most delicious way and you'll really need to try it to believe it. 

Malaysian Kam Heong Bamboo Clams (Spicy) 金香炒拉拉

By the way, after ordering this dish in a few restaurants, I noticed that certain restaurants like to add a significant amount of sugar to this dish which I think is totally unnecessary - when the Chinese say that a dish (especially seafood) is 'sweet', it is definitely not the sugary sweetness we are referring to, but rather a natural sweetness or freshness 鲜 that can probably be associated with 'umami'.  Although sugar is often called for in a lot of authentic Chinese cooking, it is more a 'hidden' flavour so to speak, that is to say, sugar is often added to bring out the other flavours and just a tiny bit is used - which is of course a moot point if we are talking about certain dishes like say, sweet and sour pork etc.

Malaysian Kam Heong Bamboo Clams (Spicy) 金香炒拉拉

Just in case you were wondering, 'kam heong' literally translates to golden fragrance from Chinese and is probably one of the many example of Chinese dishes that are named auspiciously.  The Chinese have a penchant for naming their dishes with catchy and auspicious sounding words since time immemorial and I really think this dish is aptly named, the golden hues of the dish comes that from the curry powder and the unmistakable fragrance of this incredibly aromatic dish fit the name perfectly.

Serves 6


1 kg worth of la la clams (Bamboo clams)
3 cloves garlic, minced roughly
1 1/2 tbsps curry powder
3 tbsps chopped dried shrimp (rinse the dried shrimp well before chopping)
Handful of fresh curry leaves (leaves only)
3-4 bird's eye chilli peppers, sliced (seeded if you prefer less heat)


1 tbsp light soy sauce, or to taste


Firstly, heat your wok until almost smoking.  Add 2 tbsps of cooking oil, we are going to pre-fry the clams a little to remove some of the moisture.  Fry the clams for a quick minute, not longer as this step is mainly to remove moisture and not to cook them fully.

Clean the wok.  Heat the wok until almost smoking again.  Add 3 tbsps of cooking oil. Swirl to coat.  Turn heat to medium.  Add in the curry leaves, bird's eye chilli peppers, garlic and dried shrimp.  Fry till aromatic.

Add the curry powder and 1 tbsp of water.  Add in the clams and turn up the heat, add the soy sauce.  Stir-fry around briskly until cooked.  The clams are cooked once you see the shells opening up.  Do a taste test and add more soy sauce if desired.  Remember to discard any clams that refuse to open.



Cheah said...

Yes, I love this dish and like it not too wet.  Yours is just right!

Smallkucing said...

yum...i love this but lazy to make coz difficult to get fresh clams here

julia ojara said...

love the pictures..looked so enticing

Ellie | Gourmand Recipes said...

My favorite way to cook lala! Gorgeous pictures, Jen.

Jeannie said...

Kam Heong lala is my favorite way of cooking lala.  Another way of cooking that I love is by steaming with lots of ginger and bird's eye chillies and serve piping hot! Yum!

sewa elf said...

Very nice, thanks for sharing.

Belly Good Cooking said...

Aromatic and spicy, yum.......

Sea Cuisine said...

This recipe sounds delicious, Jen. Not to mention, the presentation is exquisite. Next time we are in seafood aisle at the supermarket we will have to get some clams and give this recipe a go. Thanks!

Anncoo said...

I love this dish very much. Looks so delicious and so good to go with a cup of beer :)

Foodfortots said...

Haven't tasted this dish for a very long time. Your dish is full of "wok hei" and aromatic by using the fresh curry leaves!

Tan wiratchada said...

Cooking with Clams always delicious...I have one but I used roasted chili paste. Your photos make me drooling....:D 

Carolyn Jung said...

I love clams any which way. But this curry sauce sounds so good, I know I'd need a lot of rice to soak up every last lovely drop.

My Fudo said...

This is new to me and I want to experience the spicy clam with bamboo shoots. That looks okay with a thick white rice.

Smoky Wok (Tastes of Home) said...

thanks everyone! :)

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