It's been a few years since my visit to my parents' hometown of Hue, Vietnam but I still remember the food I had there like it was yesterday. Bun hen, a Hue dish made of freshwater baby clams harvested from the Perfume River (Song Huong), was such a delight that my sister, KD, and I went back to the same restaurant every day for these little clams for the duration of our stay.
While shopping at Truong Thinh II Super Market in Dorchester the other day, I saw the freshwater baby clams imported from Vietnam in frozen packs and decided to replicate what I had in Hue.
Ingredients seen here: fresh knob of ginger, a few cloves of garlic, a couple shallots, a few Bird's eye chilies, raw peanuts, shallot crisps, Vietnamese dressing, pork rinds, sesame seed rice cracker, rice noodles, shredded spring onion, polygonum, spearmint and clams.
I always buy raw nuts and dry roast them myself for each meal. It's really quick and simple and tastes ten times better than store-bought roasted nuts.
I stir-fried the clams over high heat with shallot, ginger, garlic and chili. The clams were seasoned with a bit of fish sauce, ground black pepper, sugar, oyster sauce and then tossed with shredded polygonum, spearmint and spring onion. The stir-fried clams, hen xao, can also be served as an appetizer along with some sesame rice crackers.
To serve as bun hen, I placed some rice noodles into a bowl, added my herbs of choice, piled on the stir-fried clams and garnished with shallot crisps, pork rinds and roasted peanuts. A drizzle of Vietnamese dressing completes the meal.