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a plate of cooked tamarind razor clams
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5 from 1 vote

Vietnamese Tamarind Razor Clams

These Vietnamese tamarind razor clams are finger licking good with a bit of sweet, sour, heat, and umami with every bite.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Servings: 4 servings
Author: Vy Tran


  • 1.5 pounds razor clams, cleaned and purged
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1/2 cup tamarind sauce
  • 2 bird's eye chilis, thinly sliced and extra for serving
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves

Tamarind sauce

  • 1/2 cup tamarind water
  • 2 tbsps fish sauce
  • 2 tbsps sugar

Tamarind water

  • 2 ounces tamarind paste
  • 3/4 cup boiling water


  • To make the tamarind water, soak the tamarind paste in boiling water for 5 minutes breaking up any chunks with a spoon. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Pass the mixture through a sieve to get the tamarind water.
  • To make the tamarind sauce, in a bowl whisk together tamarind water, fish sauce, and sugar until well combined.
  • Add the oil, garlic, and shallots to a hot pan. Saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the peppercorns and razor clams and toss for 1 minute.
  • Pour the tamarind sauce over the prawns. Put the lid on the pan and let the razor clams cook for 2-3 minutes until they open. Transfer the clams to a serving platter. 
  • Let the sauce cook on high heat for 10 minutes until it becomes thicker. Add 2 tbsps basil leaves and chilis and cook for another 2 minutes for the basil and chilis to release their flavors.
  • Pour the sauce over the prawns. Garnish with more basil and chilis and serve immediately.


How to clean razor clams:
Razor clams need to be cleaned properly before cooking. Put the clams in a container with salted ice 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.