A dish full of steamed Thai-Style Mussels and Clams is a little deceiving. For the uninitiated, it appears to be a lot of work and an intricate dish to bring to the table. But, in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Besides having to clean the mussels and clams thoroughly, the only painstaking part of the process, perhaps, might involve the gathering of ingredients to make the dish as authentic as possible, as well as using caution when handling one if its key components.
Among the essential ingredients needed to make Thai-Style Mussels and Clams is lemongrass, bird’s eye chili peppers, Thai basil and fish sauce. Finding these ingredients is not as difficult as it once was due, in part, to the number of home cooks who have embraced Asian cuisine. Some of us are able to grow our own lemongrass, Thai basil and chili peppers from seed, with fish sauce – even the premium kind – being available at even modestly-sized supermarkets. Asian and ethnic markets are rich sources for ingredients, while others seek on-line sources as a starting point for their supplies.
If you’re a seasoned handler of chili peppers, you can skim over this paragraph, but if you are new to working with them, be extremely cautious. The peppers contain oil-based capsaicin, a powerful element that can cause severe burning if it comes into contact with your eyes or other membranes of the body. You can remove capsaicin from your hands by rubbing them with cooking oil before washing them with dishwashing liquid. Or, eliminate the problem altogether by wearing plastic or latex gloves.
If for one reason or another you don’t get to cook your clams or mussels the same day as you bring them home, you can store them for up to a day. Take them out of their wrappings and place them in a dry bowl in the refrigerator. Mussels and clams are living and perishable and need room to breathe.