Pipis with Lemongrass, Chilli & Garlic

Stir-fried Pipis with Lemongrass & Chilli in a large cream bowl on a blue serviette

There’s nothing like a quick and easy stir-fry when you’re short on time; these pipis with lemongrass are inspired by a recipe from chef Mark Jensen of Red Lantern in Darlinghurst. I make it with Goolwa pipis from South Australia as I usually have a bag in the freezer for quick meals, but this simple marinade makes everything taste great so use any bivalves or crustaceans, such as blue mussels, vongole or prawns. If I have leftover cooked rice in the fridge I often make a Red Rice Cake to serve with it, but steamed rice works well too; Vietnamese pickles are also a great accompaniment (see video below). I find a glass of Vigna del Cristo, a pale pink dry Lambrusco di Sorbara from Emilia-Romagna, works particularly well with the spice in this dish.

Serves 2–4

Ingredients
  • 4 stalks lemongrass, white part only finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon pickled minced chilli
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon castor sugar
  • 1kg pipis
  • Steamed jasmine rice, for serving
Method
  1. Combine lemongrass, garlic, chilli, oil, fish sauce and sugar in a large bowl.
  2. Add pipis, toss to coat well, cover and set aside at room temperature for 30–60 minutes.
  3. Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat.
  4. Add pipis and marinade, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook for a couple of minutes, until shells start to open.
  5. As each shell opens, remove it to a bowl. You may need to cover the pan for another 30 seconds or so to encourage the remainder to open. Once most are open, hold any unopened ones over the sink and use a blunt knife (such as a butter knife) to pry them open. If they smell good, they’re fine to eat, otherwise discard them.
  6. Serve with plenty of steamed rice; the sauce can be quite salty if it’s taken a while for the pipis to open, so start with a little and add more to taste.

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