Cyrenobatissa subsulcata

Cyrenobatissa subsulcata – the big basket clam

The Cyrenobatissa subsulcata is the largest known basket clam, its shell is up to 8 cm in length and over 7 cm in height, hence the name.

  • Family: Corbiculidae (basket clam)
  • Genus: Cyrenobatissa (northern Vietnam)
  • Bionominal name: Cyrenobatissa subsulcata
  • Synonyms: Cyrenobatissa maxima, Corbicula maxima
  • English name (suggested): big basket clam
  • Vietnamese name: trìa

Cyrenobatissa is a genus of basket clams (in the family Corbiculidae, Vietnamese: hến) in northern Vietnam. The Cyrenobatissa subsulcata is found in substantial amounts in brackish Tam Giang Lagoon, in central Vietnam’s Huế city, where it is called trìa. Huế cuisine is also known for many dishes made from basket clams, such as basket clam rice (cơm hến), or sautéed bask clams (hến xào). No wonder, trìa, the big basket clam, is a local delicacy food. The meat of C. subsulcata here is described as sweeter than other freshwater basket clams, possible due to the brackish waters of the lagoon. The big basket clam is harvested during the summer, near an estuary.

harvesting big basket clams Cyrenobatissa subsulcata
Harvesting big basket clams (Cyrenobatissa subsulcata) in Tam Giang lagoon.

Culinary uses

The most popular dish is the big basket clam congee (cháo trìa). The basket clams are soaked in rice-rinsing water or normal water with some dried chili pepper for about 3 hours, to release all the dirts. The clams are rubbed and rinsed before getting poached in a hot pot of water. That water is decanted and are used to cook rice congee. The trìa clam meat is removed from the shells, and get marinated with seasonings like black pepper, Asian purple shallots, fermented shrimp sauce. The meat then gets slightly sauteed, once done, it is added to the rice congee pot.

Big basket clam congee
Big basket clam congee – cháo trìa – served with chopped scallions, and coriander

With pretty much similar cooking method, the big basket clam can be cooked in a sour soup with star fruit (canh trìa nấu khế). Clams are sauteed then get cooked in a sour solution of water and star fruit slices.

big basket clam sour soup
Big basket clam sour soup

Though the trìa clam is not as big as a scallop, or an oyster but its size is reasonable, and can be cooked like other sea shells in Vietnam. Grill and steam dishes are also common in local restaurants.

steamed big basket clams with lemongrass stalks (Cyrenobatissa subsulcata)
Steamed big basket clams with lemongrass stalks
grilled big basket clams (Cyrenobatissa subsulcata)
Grilled big basket clams

 

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