This Vietnamese razor clam salad is simple yet delicious and filled with so many texture and flavors from the crunchy pickled vegetables, sweet and tender razor clams, heady herbs, fried shallot, and roasted peanuts bound by the addicting sauce.
With the heat blasting through southern California, we find ourselves living on a lot of salads and minimally cooked food. I'm sharing a Vietnamese razor clam salad inspired by one that I had eaten in Vung Tau many years ago. While razor clams are abundant in Vietnam, we rarely get them here. If you can't find razor clams, you can substitute with squid. Similar to the Vietnamese lotus stem salad with prawns, it features pickled carrot and daikon, steamed razor clams, and Vietnamese herbs tossed in a spicy, tangy dressing. I love the texture and flavor of the crunchy pickled vegetables, sweet and tender razor clams, heady herbs, fried shallot, and roasted peanuts bound by the addicting sauce.
How to Clean Razor Clams
Razor clams need to be cleaned properly before cooking. Put the clams in a container with salted cold water for half an hour to purge the excess sand. Check the outside of the shells to make sure they aren’t broken. Any damaged shells should be discarded. If you see the white flesh sticking out of their shells, give them a quick tap and they should wriggle back inside the shell. Give the razor clams a quick rinse before you cook them.
How to Steam Razor Clams
Steaming razor clams is a great way to get tender meat. Similar to cooking mussels and other clams, quick cooking is essential to prevent the razor clam becoming tough and overcooked. Bring half a cup of water to a boil in a large pan. Add the clams to the pan, cover with a lid, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the clams have fully opened. Remove the clams and plunge them into a bowl filled with iced water to prevent further cooking.
How to Prep Razor Clams for Salad
Drain the clams and pull them from the shell. Trim off the rounded foot at the base of the clam and cut out the black stomach, which will contain sand and grit. Cut the clams in half and set them aside until you're ready to assemble the salad.
How to Pickle the Vegetables
Cut the carrot and daikon into thin matchsticks about 2 inches long and ⅛ inches thick. Pickle them for 2 hours until you’re ready to assemble the salad.
When to Assemble the Salad
I like to assemble the razor clam salad right before serving but feel free to make it a two hours before and store it in the fridge. Toss the carrots, daikon, herbs, and razor clams together. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. Top the salad with roasted peanuts and fried shallots before serving.
This Vietnamese razor clam salad is simple yet delicious and filled with so many texture and flavors. The crunchy pickled vegetables pair perfectly with the sweet and tender razor clams. Enjoy it as is or pair it with some prawn crackers or jasmine rice for a complete meal.
For more salad inspiration, check these recipes: Vietnamese lotus stem salad with prawns, Vietnamese rice paper salad, green mango salad with grilled tom yum prawns, Vietnamese papaya salad with beef jerky,
- 1 cup warm water
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
- ½ cup sugar
- 8 oz carrot, peeled, cut into matchsticks ⅛th-inch thick and 2 inches long
- 8 oz daikon, peeled, cut into matchsticks ⅛th-inch thick and 2 inches long
- 1.5 pounds razor clams, cleaned
- 2 tbsps chopped Thai basil
- 2 tbsps chopped perilla
- ¼ cup fried shallots
- 2 tbsps roasted peanuts, chopped
- 2 tbsps fish sauce
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tbsps granulated sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 3 small red bird's eye chilis, gently smashed
- To make the pickle liquid, combine water, vinegar, and sugar in a bowl and whisk until the sugar has dissolved.
- Divide the pickle juice into twp bowls. Add carrots and daikon separately in each bowl. Let the vegetables pickle for 2 hours.
- Fill a large pan with ½ cup of water and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Add the clams to the pan, cover with a lid, and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the clams have fully opened.
- Remove the clams and plunge them into a bowl filled with iced water to prevent further cooking.
- Drain the clams and pull them from the shell. Trim off the rounded foot at the base of the clam and cut out the black stomach, which will contain sand and grit. Cut the clams in half and set them aside until you're ready to assemble the salad.
- To make dressing, combine everything in a bowl and whisk together until combined. Set aside until ready to serve.
- When ready to assemble salad, drain carrot and daikon.
- In a large bowl, combine razor clams, carrots, daikon, and herbs. Pour half of the dressing over salad and toss to combine.
- Transfer to a salad platter and garnish with peanuts and fried shallots. Serve with reserved dressing and prawn crackers.