Sunday, March 22, 2009

Canh Hến (Baby Clam Soup)

I am back in Montréal for a visit at my mother's. This means more frequent food posts! Whenever I arrive from my 6 hour drive, my mom always has something cooked up, just in case I am hungry. This time, she made canh hến (baby clam soup). Actually, I refer to this soup simply as giong or don; my mom is not sure of the spelling and I was not able to google it because it's a regional term that is not used throughout Vietnam.

The more common term for baby clam is hến. However, according to my mother, giong is a different type of clam. It's more yellow while hến is black-ish. Hến is often used in Huế cuisine. Huế and Quảng Ngãi are both in Miền Trung (Central Vietnam). I also remember my landlady from Northern Vietnam making this soup with dill. I had never seen dill used in Vietnamese food before, other than in chả cá.

Canh Hến (Baby Clam Soup)
Here in North America, my mom buys canned baby clams for this soup. It takes 10 minutes to make and you only need 2 other ingredients: green onion and chili peppers. I like this soup spicy but you can tone it down to your taste.

* 1 can baby clams
* oil
* 2-3 green onion, sliced thinly
* 1 jalapeño pepper (or any type of chili pepper), sliced thinly - optional
* water

Drain the baby clams and save the clam juice (this is key for the soup!).
Stir fry the drained green onion, pepper and baby clams in oil.
Season with salt.
When the green onion and pepper look cooked, add the reserved clam juice and the same amount of water (about a can full).
Bring to a boil and turn the heat down.
Taste the soup and season with salt to taste.
Serve with bánh tráng (toasted sesame rice paper).

My mom believes these are actually giong since they are yellow clams.

My mom's bánh tráng seems to have more sesame seeds than mine!

You have to eat the pieces of bánh tráng before they get soggy!


Wandering Chopsticks said...

I ate com hen last week for the first time and they were tiny, tiny clams.

I've never heard of giong or don. I just say oc. We have the extra large oc buou around where I'm from.

Anonymous said...

Nina - That looks really, really good. And the recipe is so easy. I will make it sometime soon. Just gotta go find me some canned clams. Please tell your mother I said hello!

Miss.Adventure said...

WC: They were tiny in Vietnam but the canned baby clams seem the most viable option here! I did love com hen... maybe if I ever go to California! I thought "oc" was snails?

G: Thanks! I will say hi but maybe you'll get to meet her. She'll be in Cali in a month!

DEE said...

You and your mom should open up a restaurant!

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Oops, you're right. Oc is snails. My dictionary says "con trai," but I've never heard my parents refer to clams as that. We just say "oc" for both snails and clams. We "bat oc," we definitely do not "bat trai." :P

Wandering Chopsticks said...

Ah ha! My oldest uncle says "oc" is the modifier. So my family says "oc" to apply to all bivalves. But if you were to say the whole word and get specific, you'd say "oc hen," "oc so," etc. :)