Recipe: Three-cups Corbicula

Today’s recipe was contributed by Christine Ngai Ryan whose research at the University of Nevada Reno focuses on invasive fish.

The name “three cups” indicates a traditional style of Taiwanese cooking and refers to the three main ingredients of the sauce: soy, rice wine, and oil.  Here, we use the sauce in a recipe featuring the Asian clam Corbicula fluminea, but the “three cups” sauce is commonly used in other recipes featuring ingredients such as chicken, squid, and assorted mushrooms.


A helpful guide for collecting and preparing clams can be found here.  One of the most important things to remember when collecting any clams for consumption is that they are filter feeders so do NOT eat clams collected from polluted waters.

Corbicula shell. Photo credit:



2 cups Asian clams, still in shell

3 thick slices of ginger

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

2 Asian chili peppers, coarsely chopped

1 bunch basil, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons rice wine

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon cooking oil


1.  Combine and warm sesame oil and cooking oil in wok

2.  Over low heat, fry ginger, garlic, and peppers until golden brown and fragrant

3.  Increase to high heat and add clams, soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar

4.  Cover and cook until clam shells open (6-8 minutes)

5.  Remove from heat, stir in chopped basil, and enjoy


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