THE Dish: Susan Feniger's Malaysian Black Pepper Clams

For "The Dish," chef Susan Feniger prepared her Malaysian Black Pepper Clams on "CBS This Morning: Saturday," July 28, 2012.
CBS News

(CBS News) NEW YORK -- Chef Susan Feniger is a culinary pioneer who helped set the table for other women so they could break the glass ceiling in the kitchen - just as she did.

Susan and her cooking partner and collaborator, Mary Sue Milliken, spiced up the L.A. culinary scene, focusing on Latin cuisine in their first Border Grill restaurant in 1985, and now co-own and are co-head chefs of the Border Grill Restaurants & Truck chain.

In 2009, Susan launched her first solo venture, Susan Feniger's Street, which has become a big L.A. success story. It pays homage to international street food.

An award-winning chef, restaurateur, cookbook author and radio/TV personality, Susan co-hosted the popular Food Network show "Too Hot Tamales" with Mary Sue. It had a run of more than 400 episodes after its 1995 debut. The show helped set the stage for other female chefs to step in to the spotlight.

Both took part in Bravo's "Top Chef Masters," though in different seasons.

In 1988, Susan and Mary Sue became the first women to receive the California Restaurant Writer's prestigious Chef of the Year Award.

They're widely considered two of the leading authorities on Latin cuisine in the U.S.

Susan stopped by "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to share recipes for her ultimate dish, Malaysian Black Pepper Clams.

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Malaysian Black Pepper Clams

Serves 4

When I was in Singapore, I got a hot tip from a hotel concierge about a great local restaurant, after much arm-twisting to not send me to a tourist spot. It turned out that her grandfather owned a popular Malaysian diner that was off the beaten path and outside the city. Though there wasn't a lot of English spoken there, as always, the love of food was the understood language. That day, I tasted lots of traditional Malaysian dishes, including this one, which they made with crab instead of clams. However, the sweetness of clams with this sauce is an undeniably fantastic combination. A big bowl of these clams, the broth, some crusty bread for dipping and a salad make the perfect meal with very little mess to clean up afterwards. Whenever we rotate the menu at street, we try to take this recipe off and it practically causes a riot.

  • 2-1/2 pounds Manila clams
  • 1/4 cup grated coconut palm sugar or packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
  • Juice of 1-1/2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick)
  • unsalted butter
  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/2cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thai basil leaves (see page 109) or regular basil leaves
  • Sourdough bread, sliced
  • 1 inch thick and toasted, for serving (optional)
  • Extra virgin olive oil, for serving (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for serving

1. Put the clams in a large bowl and rinse them under cold running water for 5 to 10 minutes to purge them of all sand and grit. Drain.

2. In a small bowl, combine the coconut palm sugar, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice.

3. Heat the canola oil in a large sauté pan or skillet set over high heat. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, to release the flavors, but do not let the garlic brown. Add the black pepper and the clams. Add 1/3 cup water, cover immediately, and steam the clams for 3 to 4 minutes or until they open. Remove any that do not open. Add the oyster sauce mixture and stir well. Add the butter, stir well, and pour the clams into a large bowl.

4. Sprinkle the mint, cilantro, and Thai basil over the clams. Serve with the toasted bread, brushed with the olive oil, if desired, and wedges of fresh lime.