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Feb 6, 2021

Stir-Fried Clams in Bean Sauce with Chilies and Green Peppers

These stir-fried clams in bean sauce with chilies and green peppers are so flavorful and rich tasting. The sauce turned out so delicious that I wish I could bottle it.

Stir-Fried Clams in Bean Sauce with Chilies

My favorite local seafood restaurant serves clams in a delicious spicy sauce that you soak up with slices of cheesy garlic bread. The dish is on the appetizer menu, but I order it as my entree, along with a salad. Heaven!

While their clams are steamed, I tried making this recipe in a wok. They turned out very similar to steamed clams, the only difference being that you first stir fry the clams with the rest of the ingredients before covering them to steam them open. 

The sauce in this stir-fry is comprised of just a few ingredients: chicken broth, bean sauce, soy sauce, shallots, garlic, sugar, sesame oil, and ginger. The bean sauce is the only specialty ingredient, and can usually be found at Asian grocery stores. 

If you can't find bean sauce, the chili bean sauce or garlic bean sauce that most grocery stores carry in their Asian sections would be good substitutes. 

Stir-Fried Clams in Bean Sauce

I actually bought these littleneck clams at the same restaurant (they have a little fish market too) because I know they will pack them with care and that they will be super fresh. 

They packed up the clams in a plastic bag with some ice, placed the plastic bag in a paper bag, and then gently folded the plastic over the paper to create an open environment for the clams to breathe. Then they placed the bag into another open bag with handles. I had brought along a cooler with an ice pack to transport my precious cargo home, but clearly I didn't need it.

Note: Be sure to buy and use the clams in the same day, and make sure the clams you buy are closed tight. I like to prep everything even before running to the fish market. 

To prepare the clams before cooking them, rinse the clams in several changes of water and scrub them to remove any grit. Throw out any clams that remain opened. Be sure to dry them so that they don't cause a splatter when added to the hot oil in the wok. 

I've also heard that you can soak clams in salt water for a couple of hours and they will purge themselves of any sand and grit. 

Clams and Chinese New Year

The meal on Chinese New Year's Eve consists of symbolic foods to ensure that the new year will be blessed with prosperity, happiness, longevity, abundance, and even fertility. 

Clams represent prosperity, and their shape is thought to be like ancient coins. Other foods that represent prosperity include scallops and lettuce. 

Serve these clams with sticky rice to sop up the delicious sauce. 

Other lucky foods include shrimp (happiness and laughter), eggs (fertility), scallions (intelligence), noodles (longevity), cilantro (compassion), and hard liquor (longevity... love this one). Source: Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge

How to make stir-fried clams:

After washing and drying the clams, mix together the bean sauce, chicken broth, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, and some Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry. 

Next, heat some peanut or vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet and add the garlic, shallots, ginger, and chilies and stir fry for 15 seconds. Add the clams, and gently stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes. 

After that, add the diced bell pepper and the sauce mixture. Cover the wok and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, until the clams just begin to open. Lift the lid and remove any clams that have opened to a shallow serving bowl to reserve. Continute to stir fry until all of the clams have opened. 

If, after about 4 minutes, there are still unopened clams, discard them. Remove the rest of the clams to the bowl and pour in the sauce. 

Stir-fried clams in bean sauce recipe variations:

Instead of green bell peppers, you can use a combination of green and red bell peppers for more color. 

While I used littleneck clams, you can make this dish with manilla clams or cherrystone clams. You may need to increase the number of clams depending on the size. 

You can also substitute jalapeños for the Anaheim chilies for a spicier (and delicious) dish. 

Sunday Funday logo

Welcome to another Sunday Funday. Our host is my friend Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm and our theme is Chinese New Year. Be sure to check out everyone's dishes for the feast. 

Stir-Fried Clams in Bean Sauce with Chilies and Green Peppers in a bowl

This post is updated from February, 2016. The updated post includes new photos and a printable recipe card. 

Stir-Fried Clams in Bean Sauce with Chilies and Green Peppers Recipe

Stir-Fried Clams in Bean Sauce with Chilies and Green Peppers Recipe
Yield: 4 servings as part of a multicourse meal
Author: Karen's Kitchen Stories
These stir-fried clams in bean sauce with chilies and green peppers are so flavorful and rich tasting. The sauce turned out so delicious that I wish I could bottle it.


  • 18 littleneck clams
  • 2 tablespoons ground bean sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon white pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 thinly sliced scallion
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced Anaheim (or other mild) chilies
  • 1 bell pepper, cut into 1 inch dice


  1. Wash the clams in several changes of water and scrub the shells with a brush to remove any grit. 
  2. Drain the clams and dry with paper towels. 
  3. In a small bowl, mix the bean sauce, chicken broth, rice wine, sugar, sesame oil, and white pepper.
  4. Heat a 14-inch flat bottomed carbon steel wok (or skillet) over high heat.  Add the oil, garlic, shallots, ginger, scallion, and chilies and stir fry for 15 seconds. 
  5. Add the clams and gently stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers and stir in the broth mixture. 
  6. Cover the wok and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the clams begin to open. 
  7. Uncover, and transfer any opened clams to a serving bowl. Stir fry the clams left in the wok for an additional 3 to 4 minutes until all of the clams have opened. Discard any unopened clams and transfer the rest to the bowl. 
  8. Pour the sauce over the clams and serve. 
clams, stir-fry, Chinese New Year
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  1. Oh yes, I wouldn't share them either. They sound delicious!!

  2. Gorgeous presentation of the clams and that fabulous sauce! I bet my sister would love this recipe. She lives in clam heaven. I'll send it to her. Thanks!

  3. I did not realize clams needed to breathe either. My supermarket put them in a plastic bag, then wrapped the bag in freezer paper... Luckily, I did not have any issues with them opening beforehand, or staying closed after cooking. Gorgeous photos - always look forward to seeing your pictures.

    1. You are so lucky! Maybe it was how they stored them at the grocer too, although they were closed when I bought them.. =) So happy I stuck with it! Thanks for the kind comments.

  4. I've never purchased clams before, but I would have been so mad if all my clams opened before I got home. Glad it worked out for you at another fish market! I'm determined to make a clam dish at home, but sadly am the only one in the family who likes them. Oh well, more for me!

  5. I just recently cooked with clams for the first time, and it won't be the last -- these are just beautiful, and I love all of the flavors, I'm sure the light clams soak up all the delicious flavor!!

  6. Now, I'm totally going to have to make a double batch of these lil' guys! One batch is not nearly enough!!!

  7. I have made this dish before and it was a huge hit. Yours look perfect Karen. I soak my clams in water with cornmeal for cleaning and then rinse them well in fresh water before cooking.

    1. I'm definitely going to have to try the cornmeal trick!

  8. It's been awhile since I had some shellfish. Sometimes we'd get a similar dish to this in a restaurant. But mostly waiting to get back to the fish market more often when they have lots of clams and mussels. The salt water trick helps, at least I think so. Maybe they weren't gritty to begin with, but why risk it? Looking forward to trying your recipe!

    1. Thanks! I'll have to try the saltwater trick!

  9. Yummmm.... I have never attempted clams at home - I need to. My mouth is watering!

    1. They definitely take some extra care, but the results are worth it!

  10. Love eating clams with the shells, they are so delicious!

  11. Love the way you have presented the dish. It looks delicious

  12. Spicy clams? Count me in! This is such a pretty dish!

    1. Thanks Stacy. I wish I could share it with you!


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