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200g–300g fresh clams
2 Lemongrass sticks
6 fresh / frozen kaffir lime leaves
100 ml coconut milk
6 x Thai shallots
3 cloves garlic
1 thumb sized piece of galangal / ginger for swapsies
1 Thai red Birdseye chilli
1 bashed and finely chopped stick of fresh turmeric / 1.5 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ready fried thai shallots (optional)
200ml fresh vegetable stock (a bag of veggie stock is best if not homemade)
300ml fresh coconut water
1–2 tbsp Fish sauce
1–2 tsp Palm sugar
On the Side
50–100g dry rice vermicelli
2 just over-soft boiled eggs
3 baby cucumbers / ½ large cucumber
3–4 gem lettuce
Bunch Thai sweet basil
Finely chop all ‘The Paste’ ingredients and then pound well in a pestle and mortar until smooth. Bash the 2 lemongrass sticks and rub the kaffir lime leaves between your fingertips to bring out their essential oils. Soak the clams in cold salted water to get rid of any grit.
Prepare the ‘On the Side’ ingredients as follows: Boil the rice vermicelli for 3–4 minutes until softened, then strain and cool in a bowl of cold water. Twist into neat little nests around a fork and then place on a large plate. Soft boil your eggs in salted water by placing in cold water, once on the boil, cook for 3 minutes. Once cooked, cool in a bowl of cold water (you can use the same bowl as the noodles) and then peel the eggs and cut in half or quarters. Wash the cucumber, gem lettuce and sweet basil and slice the cucumbers lengthways in half. Present all the veg and cut eggs on the same plate as the vermicelli noodles.
Bring 1–2 tbsp vegetable oil to a medium heat in a saucepan and gently fry the paste for 3–5 minutes or until fragrant. Once the aroma turns from ‘grassy’ to sweet and aromatic, pour the coconut milk and bring to a boil. Allow to cook for 2–3 minutes and then add ‘The Stock’ ingredients into the pan and bring to boil once more. Now add the clams into the stock and turn the heat down to simmer for 5 minutes. Lastly, season with fish sauce and palm sugar to taste to get a balanced flavour of sweet and savoury.
Serve with all the ‘On the Side’ bits and bobs with a bowl per person to eat as you wish.