Clams in Black Bean Sauce Recipe

4 - 6 people
00h 15
00h 15

This recipe riffs off an old Chinatown standby and is a simple way to deliver immense flavor to a pot or wok filled with clams. The salty pungency of fermented black beans combines beautifully with the sweet salinity of the shellfish, while ginger and dry Chinese rice wine provide cool jolts of flavor above and around them. Served with white rice and a platter of steamed or stir-fried greens, it makes for a dinner of remarkable complexity and ease - Sam Sifton.

Reprinted with permission from See You on Sunday: A Cookbook for Family and Friends by Sam Sifton, copyright © 2020. Published by Random House. Photography credit: David Malosh © 2020. Buy online.

Note: You’ll need a large wok or Dutch oven in which to cook the clams.


  • 4 dozen littleneck clams

  • 2 Tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed

  • 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin coins

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

  • 2 scallions, both green and white parts, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or to taste

  • ¼ cup fermented black beans, roughly chopped

  • 3 Tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine

  • 3 Tablespoons oyster sauce

  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)

  • 3 Tablespoons cornstarch mixed into ¼ cup water to make a slurry

  • 3 Tablespoons roughly chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Rinse and scrub the clams and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large wok or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the ginger, garlic, scallions, and red pepper flakes and stir-fry until the garlic begins to color, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the fermented black beans and cook for 15 to 20 seconds, then carefully add the clams to the wok, followed by the rice wine. Cover the wok and allow to cook until the clams begin to open, 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the size of the clams.
  4. Once the clams have started to open, give them a stir in the wok, add the oyster sauce, and stir again. Taste the liquid in the bottom of the wok. If it is not salty enough, add the soy sauce; if it is too salty for you, add the sugar.
  5. Stir in about half of the cornstarch slurry and allow the sauce to thicken. Add more of the slurry if you want a thicker sauce.
  6. Transfer the clams and sauce to a large rimmed platter and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve immediately.