Hến xúc bánh tráng is one of my husband's favorite appetizers; it's simple, flavorful and easy to make. The guys would actually enjoy making this one and show off to their friends during a football game or a birthday party; nothing would motivate a guy more than bragging rights. Once they're hooked, you can ask them to cook it and there would be no resistance. How nice would that be?
The mixture of the soft clams together with the crunchiness of the rice crackers give us a great contrast in texture. But this dish is really a delight for your taste buds. The multiple spices of fermented shrimp sauce, ground black pepper, Vietnamese coriander, salt, sugar, shallots and red hot peppers will really add a burst of flavors. And it really goes well with beer, wine, or wine cooler.
Hến xúc bánh tráng is a wonderful appetizer that will offer variety in both taste and texture; it's simple to make but offers a distinct and sophisticated flavor.
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RECIPE: Hến Xúc Bánh Tráng
1 can of 51 oz Chopped Sea Clams (available at Sam's Club), drained
2 tablespoons finely chopped Lemongrass
1/2 tablespoon of Fermented Shrimp Sauce (Mắm Ruốc)
2 tablespoons of minced Shallot
2 tablespoons of minced Garlic
1/2 Sweet Onion, diced
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 tablespoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 bunch of Vietnamese Coriander (rau răm), chopped
1/2 tablespoon Roasted Sesame Seeds or chopped Roasted Peanuts or both
Roasted Sesame Rice Crackers (Bánh Tráng Nướng)
Fried Shallots, optional
1 fresh Chili Pepper,sliced, optional
Combine all the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
In a pan, heat oil and saute shallot, garlic and lemon grass. Once the mixture is slightly golden, add the clams and mixed seasoning. Stir for about a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat. Add sweet onion and mix well. Let it cool a little bit then add Vietnamese coriander (rau răm). Mix well.
Transfer it to a serving plate and sprinkle some roasted sesame seeds or chopped roasted peanuts then top with slices of chilli pepper. Garnish with lime wedges. Serve with rice crackers or bánh phồng tôm (Vietnamese shrimp chips).