WSG News Blog

Local and Coastal: Spicy Thai Basil Clams

August, 7, 2020

Of the three clam species farmed in Washington–native littleneck, Manila, and the infamous geoduck clam–Manila clams are the most common, thanks to their fast growth and ability to be cultivated under a wide range of conditions. Washington Sea Grant supports a diverse and resilient shellfish aquaculture industry in myriad ways, from funding research to reduce juvenile clam mortality to supporting the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community and they revive native clam gardens. Shellfish and the folks that grow our favorite bivalves are important threads in the cultural and economic fabric of Washington State. 

Thanks to Langdon Cook, local author and forager, for this spicy Manila clam preparation. Check out the original post here, and look out for other opportunities to cook and forage with Langdon here

Photo Credit: Langdon Cook


  • 3 pounds Manila clams 
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 thumb ginger, diced
  • 8 Thai bird chilies, halved and de-seeded
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon chili bean sauce 
  • 1 ½ cup basil, chopped 

Photo Credit: Langdon Cook


  1. Scrub and rinse clams 
  2. Combine rice wine, sugar, fish sauce, and chili bean sauce into a small bowl.
  3. Heat oil in wok. Stir-fry garlic, ginger, and chili peppers for a minute or two over medium heat, then stir in sauce. Raise heat to high and add clams. Cover and cook until clams open, several minutes. 
  4. When clams have opened, remove from heat and stir in basil. Serve immediately with steamed rice. 

Photo Credit: Langdon Cook