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Spicy Clams – Sambal Lala

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Think before you add all those chillies. These spicy clams pack a punch!

As spicy clams go, this recipe is a good one! Sambal Lala is hugely popular in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia.

When you try this spicy clams recipe, you’ll find out why!

Sambal lala

Perfect as a starter or main. Crack open a beer or two and enjoy.

About this recipe for sambal lala – spicy clams.

Sambal is a chilli paste used in many Malaysian and Indonesian recipe. For that matter, many South East Asian cuisines use sambal in their dishes or as a side for dipping. 

The one I used in this recipe is common in Indonesia though there are lots of different variations there too.

If you like spicy dishes, then you will love the heat and flavour this simple sambal adds to the dish.


Why are these spicy clams called sambal lala?

The sambal part is of course obvious but ‘lala’? Well lala are a type of clams used in this recipe at street food stalls.

Any clams will do though so use what is most local to you. 

Do I have to use so many chillies?

Absolutely not! If you think that this recipe for spicy clams might be a bit too spicy for you, use fewer chillies. You want to enjoy this after all. 

You could still get that intense red colouring by adding a red bell pepper. 

Does this recipe work with other seafood?

It sure does! If spicy clams aren’t your thing, you could try mussels, prawns or any seafood that you like.

If cooking fish, be sure not to stir it while cooking. Just move the pan around and it will stay whole and look amazing rather than falling apart. 

Step by step photographs…

Ingredients for spicy clams

Get all of your ingredients together before starting. It’s a lot easier that way.

Blending the sambal ingredients

Blend the sambal ingredients together until smooth. Set aside.

Frying curry powder in a wok

Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan. When visibly hot, stir in the curry powder.

Simmering sambal

Stir in the blended sambal and bring to a simmer.

Frying sambal sauce

Fry the sambal for about 3 minutes to cook out the rawness.

Adding the sauce ingredients

Stir in the sauce ingredients.

Simmering spicy clams

Add the clams and cook until all the shells have opened. If the sauce is too thin, remove the clams to a serving dish and cook it down to thicken.

Spicy clams

Serve the hot clams topped with the spicy sauce.

Spicy clams

Grab a cold beer and enoy!

If you like this sambal lala recipe, you might also like to try some of these.

Indonesian Chicken Sate
Indonesian Fried Chicken
Sambal Oelek – Indonesian hot sauce
Chicken with Sambal Matah
Babi Kecap
Spicy Green Beans Indonesian Style
Indonesian Bakso
Ikan Bakar – Indonesian Fried Fish
Nasi Goreng
Mee Goreng
Soto Ayam
Indonesian Blackened Fish
Seafood Laksa
Chicken Rendang
Beef Rendang
Butter Egg Floss Prawns
Malaysian Chicken Curry
Malaysian Devil Curry
Ayam Masak Merah – Malaysian Red Chicken Curry
Chicken Kapitan
Homemade Kecap Manis

Have you tried this sambal lala recipe?

If so, please give it a star rating in the comments below and leave a comment. I love receiving your feedback and I’m sure other readers of my blog do too. Thank you.

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Yield: 4

Spicy Clams - Sambal Lala

Spicy clams
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes


  • 1kg (2 1/4lb.) frozen clams or cleaned fresh clams
  • Lime wedges to serve
  • 8 large red bird’s eye chillies or similar
  • 10 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 x 5cm (3 inch) ginger, roughly chopped
  • 8 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, peeled white part only, thinly slice
  • 4 lime leaves, stem removed and roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 tbsp Madras curry powder
  • 2 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tbsp kecap manis
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp palm sugar or light brown sugar (optional)
  • 125ml (1/2 cup) water
  • 70ml (1/4 cup) fish sauce (more or less to taste)


  1. Place the chillies, garlic, ginger, shallots, lemongrass and lime leaves in a food processor and blend with just enough water to make a thick paste. This is your quick and easy sambal! Set aside.
  2. Now whisk the sauce ingredients together except the oil and Madras curry powder. The fish sauce adds a salty flavour but you might want to add a little less at first and then top it up at the end of cooking to your own taste preference.  
  3. Heat the oil over medium high heat in a wok or similar. When visibly hot, stir in the Madras curry powder and fry for about 15 seconds and then add the prepared sambal. Fry for about 3 minutes and then stir in the prepared sauce.
  4. Turn the heat up to high and add the clams. Simmer until all of the shells have opened. If any don’t open, discard them. Check for seasoning, adding more fish sauce for a savoury flavour, oyster sauce or kacap manis for a sweeter flavour.
  5. Serve hot with lime wedges at the table to squeeze over the clams to taste.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 227Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 1078mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 6gSugar: 16gProtein: 16g

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