Pipis are to Australia what littleneck clams are to the U.S. East Coast. So go ahead and use littlenecks. To say this recipe is for lovers of pepper (both black and spicy red) is an understatement, but the pepper adds pleasant fire to mild clams. Be sure to serve the clams with some good crusty bread to mop up the flavorful sauce.
Black Pepper Pipis
- 2 lb. pipis or littleneck clams, about 2 dozen, scrubbed
- 12 Tbs. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2-inch piece (about 1 oz.) ginger, peeled and julienned (cut into thin strips)
- 2 fresh long red chile peppers, seeded and julienned (cut into thin strips)
- 1 Tbs. peppercorns, coarsely crushed or cracked
- 2 Tbs. oyster sauce
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- Soak the pipis in a bowl of slightly salted cold water for 2 hours to help shed any sand that may be trapped. Discard any with cracked shells or open shells that don’t close when tapped firmly against the counter.
- In a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven, melt 6 Tbs. of the butter. Add the garlic, ginger, chile pepper, and peppercorns and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the oyster sauce.
- Add the pipis, cover, and cook until the clams open, about 5 minutes. Begin checking the clams early to avoid overcooking. Once they start to open, add the remaining 6 Tbs. butter, the cilantro, and lemon juice, and stir to blend. Discard any clams that have not opened after 8 minutes and serve right away.