Korean-Style Clams

Joe Isidori

Southfork Kitchen - Bridgehampton, NY

Joe Isidori usually serves this vibrant and spicy dish with Prince Edward Island mussels, but for his Beard House dinner, he swapped in littleneck clams. This recipe uses the latter, but feel free to try other shellfish.


Basil Oil:
  • 1 cup blanched Thai basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup grape seed oil
Korean Pepper Sauce:
  • 1 cup gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated garlic
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon grape-seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon chopped ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chopped lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  • 2 cups shaoxing rice wine
  • 2 cups clam juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 sprigs cilantro
  • 4 sprigs parsley
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 tablespoon kimchi seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 3 teaspoons grape seed oil
  • 2 tablespoons sliced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 4 dozen small littleneck clams, washed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fried bacon lardons
  • 1 cup thinly sliced Napa cabbage
  • 1/4 cup Thai basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup sliced breakfast radishes
  • 2 pieces Kirby kimchi, roughly chopped


To make the basil oil, combine the Thai basil leaves, sugar, and grape-seed oil in a blender and blend on high until the oil is bright green. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer lined with a paper towel. Set aside.

To make the Korean pepper sauce, mix together the gochujang, lime juice, rice vinegar, garlic, and ginger until well combined. Set aside.

To make the fumé, heat the grape-seed oil in a medium pot. Add the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and shallots and sauté until the shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the rice wine and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the clam juice, heavy cream, cilantro, parsley, star anise, kimchi seasoning, and whole black peppercorns. Let boil for another 5 minutes, then strain to remove the solids. Set aside.

To make the clams, heat 2 teaspoons of the grape-seed oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic slices and sauté until fragrant and golden. (If the garlic starts to burn, lower the heat.) Transfer to paper towels to drain.

In a large pot, heat the remaining grape-seed oil. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the clams and the strained fumé. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pot and cook until the clams have all opened, about 7 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the clams to a bowl, discarding any clams that didn’t open. Add the bacon lardons and cabbage to the pan and cook until the cabbage is tender, about 7 minutes.

To serve, divide the clams and cabbage mixture among 4 large shallow bowls. Drizzle with some Korean pepper sauce and basil oil. Garnish with Thai basil, cilantro, breakfast radishes, sautéed garlic slices, and chopped Kirby kimchi.


4 servings