Hubert Keller's Steamed Clams and Chives with Fermented Black Bean Sauce
1/2 cup bottle clam juice or light chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons soybean oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
2 tablespoons fermented black beans, lightly rinsed and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
1 teaspoon Korean red pepper flakes or hot red pepper flakes
48 littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 tablespoon butter
Cleaning Clams: To clean fresh clams, first place them in a sinkful or large pot of cold water. scrub the clams well, using a scrub brush or a clean scouring pad and lots of cold water. Discard the water, place the clams in fresh salted water, and soak for 20 to 30 minutes to purge them of any sand inside. Remove from the water and keep cold until ready to cook. In a small bowl, combine the clam juice, soy sauce and sugar. In a separate bowl. combine the rice wine and cornstarch.
Heat a large skillet over high heat, add the oil and swirl around until coated. Add the black beans, the shallots, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds or until the mixture release its fragrance. Add the clam juice mixture and heat until boiling, stirring constantly.
Add the clams, cover and cook, shaking the skillet occasionally, until most of the clams have opened. . So as not to overcook the clams, pry open the last few partially opened clams using the edge of a pair of tongs, a clam knife, or the edge of an icing spatula. Discard any clams that have sand inside or that do not open.
Scoop the clams out of the skillet, placing them in a deep bowl to keep warm. Slowly, while stirring constantly, add the rice wine mixture to the skillet and bring to a boil. Stir in the chives and the butter, bring to a boil and spoon over the clams. Serve immediately.