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Cơm Hến was a very popular low priced specialty dish used to be enjoyed by the commoners in Central Vietnam, Huế. But it’s exquisite and wonderful texture and taste could not be kept hidden for long from those who crave for great food.  These days, people from many regions find cơm hến refreshing and simply irresistible. 

Cơm hến is simple yet an intricate dish that fuses together a variety of flavors from clams, fried pork fat, clam broth, roasted peanuts, crunchy rice cracker, chilli pepper, banana flower, star fruit or crisp, juicy and tart Granny Smith apples which make it perfect for cơm hến, mint herb, Vietnamese coriander (rau ram), bac ha (taro stem), fermented shrimp sauce and room temperature rice. These ingredients culminate in a distinctive balance of sweetness, saltiness, sourness,  and spiciness with  two separate crunchy textures.   It’s sure to give your taste palate a workout! And once you’ve had a bowl, you couldn’t help but ask for  more . . .      
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RECIPE: Cơm Hến
15 to 18 Servings

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Ingredients


For Hến
4 cans of 51 oz  Clams, drained, keep the juice (available at Sam’s Club and Costco)
1-2 tablespoons of minced Shallot
1-2 tablespoons of minced Garlic
1 diced Onion
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 tablespoon Salt
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
a pinch of MSG, optional
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For Broth
A can of Clam juice
Lemon Grass, clean, lightly pound them
1/2 teaspoon White or Black Pepper
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For Sauce
4 tablespoons Fermented Shrimp Sauce (Mắm Ruốt)
2 cups  Clam Juice or Water
1 tablespoon Sugar
1 tablespoon Paprika
1 tablespoon of minced Shallot 
1 tablespoon of minced Garlic
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Condiments
Cooked rice, cooled to room temperature
Fried Pork Fat
Fried Shallots
Roasted Peanuts, chopped
Sesame Rice Paper, roasted (bánh tráng nướng), break into small pieces

5 Granny Smith Apples cut into small stripes, soak them into a bowl of salted water for about 1 minute to keep them from turning brown

1 bunch of Mints, chopped
1 bunch of Vietnamese Coriander (Rau Ram), chopped
Taro Stem, (Bac Ha), peeled and cut into small stripes

Banana Flower (Bắp Chuối), cut into half lenghtwise, then sliced, soak in water for 10 minutes, then drain.
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Prepare Hến 


Heat 1 1/ 2 tablespoons of oil on a pan and saute shallots, garlic and onion. Once the mixture is slightly golden, add the clams, salt, sugar, pepper, a pinch of msg and paprika. Stir for another two minutes. Remove it from the heat.
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Prepare Fried Pork Fat


Click here for Fried Pork Fat recipe
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Prepare Sauce


Mix shrimp sauce with clam juice or water, sugar and paprika. Set aside.
In a small pan, saute the shallot and garlic. Once the mixture is slightly golden brown, pour the mixed shrimp sauce in. Remove it from heat when it starts to boil.
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Prepare Clam Broth


In a pot, bring broth and lemon grass to boil. Remove from heat and add ground pepper. If used clams that doesn’t come with clam juice, bring 2 cups of water and lemon grass to boil. Add fresh lived clams, a little bit of salt. Cook for about 2 minutes or when it’s boiling again. Pour the broth in a bowl and add ground pepper. Set it aside.
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Presentation of Cơm Hến
Cơm Hến is served with a little rice and lots of vegetables, herbs and fruit.  Place a just a little rice about 1/2 rice bowl to a large bowl. Place herbs, vegetables, rice cracker around a bowl. Add clams in the center. Top with fried pork fat, roasted peanut, fried shallots. Drizzle on some fermented shrimp sauce and clam broth.
Enjoy a savory bowl of Cơm Hến!

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