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  • Bute St Seafoodie

Steamed Clams with Beer and Lemongrass (Ngao hấp xả bia)

Updated: Jan 16, 2021

“He was a wise man who invented beer.”

Plato (4th/5th Century BC)

It really is a total joy discussing recipes and food ideas with Claudette of No Worries Curries. She is genuinely passionate about food and a complete fountain of knowledge about spices. As a pescatarian with a love of spice she couldn’t be a better buddy for a seafoodie.

Here we have one of the simplest and quickest super-aromatic dishes I’ve posted to date. Clams cooked in a broth of beer, lemongrass, ginger and chilli and served with an equally simple dipping sauce, Nước Chấm. It’s a dish of Vietnamese origin and the formula came from a Vietnamese member of Claudette’s team. You simply scoop up some dipping sauce with your clam as your spoon. I could easily, and I mean easily, eat two portions.

I wasn’t sure which beer to use, the only guidance I had been given was "use any strong beer". So I opted for that Vietnamese classic, Doom Bar (Amber Ale). It worked fine. It's suggested by the brewer that this particular beer accompanies seafood well, so why not use it in the dish and to accompany it?

The dipping sauce here is another incarnation of Nước Chấm as was featured in the post of Vietnamese-Style Fish with Turmeric and Dill, this time including a little ginger. I've put the recipe in the Notes.

The quantities given in the recipe are suitable for 2 (possibly 3) as a starter. Alternatively they can feed more if served as part of a spread of Asian dishes like, for example, Gỏi Cuốn Tôm (shrimp salad rolls).

Steamed Clams with Beer and Lemongrass (Ngao hấp xả bia)

Ingredients (Serves 2 as a starter or 4 as part of a spread)

1kg clams, cleaned

250ml beer (see recipe intro)

3 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, bashed

Thumb-sized pieces of ginger, peeled and bashed

4 kaffir lime leaves

2 chillies, finely sliced

4-6 Thai basil leaves (optional)

Nước Chấm dipping sauce, to serve (see Note)


  1. Put the beer, lemongrass stalks, ginger, lime leaves and chillies in a saucepan large enough to take the clams and for which you have a lid. Bring these to the boil then turn out the heat and leave to infuse for as long as you like - 20 minutes is adequate.

  2. Bring the broth back to the boil with the pan lid on and once boiling, add the clams and the Thai basil leaves (if using). Replace the lid, give the pan a shake and allow the clams to open in the broth and the steam for about 3 minutes giving the pan the occasional shake.

  3. Divide the clams between two serving bowls and spoon the broth over. Serve straightaway with the dipping sauce.


  • Nước Chấm: For 2 servings combine 1 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp fish sauce, ½ tbsp caster sugar, 1 finely chopped red bird's eye chilli,1 small finely chopped garlic clove and ½ tsp finely grated ginger with 1 tbsp water. Mix well and leave until ready to use.


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