If you like spaghetti vongole, you will love this Chinese version, which uses beehoon, rice vermicelli, rather than wheat pasta.
Clam beehoon is however a traditional dish. Heng Hwa in origin, it is a specialty of such restaurants. And since the people, a sub-clan of the Hokkiens, hail from a coastal region, you will find a predominance of seafood in their dishes.
Heng Hwa food is comfort food, homely and simple, but with great flavour and taste. Aside from the beehoon, they also have a dish of razor clams, simply steamed in rice wine, and yam, stir-fried with just onions, salt and sugar, but oh, so delicious!
The clam beehoon is especially satisfying when you have indulged too much for it is a one-dish meal and relies on a cooking method that uses minimal fat.
The noodles are braised in a broth, rather than fried. Once mastered, you could adapt it for all your noodle dishes as I do.
The dish is redolent with the sweetness of clams, which means you do not have to rely too much on ingredients such as pork and prawns for flavour. While I used shelled clams here, it is really better to buy fresh clams for they are sweeter and make a pretty picture on the plate.
Finally do not over-soak the dried beehoon. You want the noodles to plump up in the flavourful stock rather than in the soaking water.
If you do this, the noodles will be impregnated with clam flavours and that is exactly the result you want.
Heng Hwa noodles (For 10)
- Soak dried beehoon in cold water till it just softens, about 15 minutes. Remove and drain immediately. Leave aside.
- Scrub the clams well and soak in salted water to rid them of sand and grit.
Heat 1Tbsp. vegetable oil in a wok and fry seaweed till crisp. It takes just minutes. Remove and drain on kitchen paper.
- Brown garlic in remaining oil. Add the pork and clams, then the vegetables, either cabbage or chye sim.
- Add rice wine and season with soya sauce and salt to taste.
- Pour over stock or water, bring to the boil and cover for a few minutes to allow the clams to steam.
- When clams have opened, add the beehoon. (Throw out the unopened ones.) Toss over high heat. Add white pepper to taste.
- Serve immediately, garnished with seaweed and peanuts.