Thai Coconut Lemongrass Clams (hoi lai tom ka)

We love clams and we love Thai food, so I knew right away this would be a winner. I mostly followed Hot Thai Kitchen’s recipe, but substituted chicken stock with Thai fish stock. These Thai clams are wonderfully fragrant and delicious.

Please note that the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and galangal are not to be eaten. You could fish them out before serving, or warn your guests.


Serves 4 as a starter

1 kilo / 2 lbs live clams, allowed to purge themselves in salted water for at least an hour

180 ml (3/4 cup) coconut milk

240 ml (1 cup) Thai fish stock

1 stalk lemongrass, smashed and chopped

5 thin slices galangal

3 kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn

2-3 Thai chillies, minced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1/2 Tbsp minced Thai palm sugar

freshly squeezed lime juice to taste

fish sauce to taste

fresh cilantro, chopped


Combine 180 ml (3/4 cup) coconut milk, 240 ml (1 cup) Thai fish stock, 1 stalk lemongrass, smashed and chopped, 5 thin slices galangal, 3 kaffir lime leaves, roughly torn, 2-3 Thai chillies, minced, 1 shallot, thinly sliced, and 1/2 Tbsp minced Thai palm sugar in a saucepan.

Bring to a boil.

Add the clams.

Cover and allow to boil until the clams have opened. This will only take a couple of minutes. Do not boil the clams longer than necessary.

Add freshly squeezed lime juice to taste.

Add fish sauce to taste.

Add chopped cilantro. (Substitute with green onions if you don’t like cilantro.)

Stir to mix, and the clams are ready to be served.


This asparagus salad can be made with either white, green, or a combination of white and green asparagus. I made a Dutch-Italian version using a vinaigrette and lightly toasted pine nuts, combined with hard-boiled egg and boiled ham.


18 thoughts on “Thai Coconut Lemongrass Clams (hoi lai tom ka)

  1. A lovely recipe which however has left me puzzled ! I have cooked with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and galangal for some fifty years and galangal is almost in daily use . . . I have never ever seen one recipe out of hundreds of cookery books which suggests they should be removed after cooking !!! What a mess and why ? Have even checked just now – tho’ lemongrass can be eaten raw if it is not finely chopped it is suggested it may be preferable to remove the whole stalk . . . . cooked all three are surely part of the dish 🙂 ?


    1. Hi Eha, it is correct that in Thailand it is usually served with those parts still in there (or so I’ve been told by friends who’ve been to Thailand). But I only eat galangal, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves if they have been minced very finely. I would not enjoy eating a 5 cm piece of lemongrass, for instance.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I guess I usually finely chop and but rarely mince and lemon-grass in bigger lengths simply does not enter my usual cooking. Decades back when I had close friends living and working in Bangkok I actually attended a number of courses at the ‘Royal Thai’ cooking classes . . . altho’ Thai has never been my favourite amongst SE Asian cuisines methinks I received a fair amount of basic knowledge of what is the usual . . . 🙂 !!


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