Cơm Hến Recipe

Lastest Updated April 19, 2024
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Com Hen, or Vietnamese baby clam rice, is a specialty dish hailing from the coastal city of Hue in Vietnam. This delightful and flavorful Vietnamese dish features a base of fragrant rice topped with baby clams, herbs, peanuts, crispy pork rinds, and a tangy fish sauce dressing.

Com Hen offers a unique combination of textures and tastes, making the recipe a must-try dish for seafood enthusiasts and lovers of Vietnamese cuisine. This article will show you exactly how to create a classic Vietnamese Com Hen at home.

Com Hen1

What Is Com Hen?

Cơm Hến or Com Hen is a local dish from Hue that comes with various toppings. The delicacy Vietnamese baby clam rice is a bowl filled with fragrant rice grains adorned with an array of toppings like peanuts, fresh vegetables, and tender clam meat.

But that’s not all! Com Hen often comes with crispy fried rice paper or fried wonton wrappers, adding a delightful crunch to each bite. To enhance the experience, a simple yet flavorful broth made of boiled clam water accompanies the dish.

And here’s a fun fact: the rice grains for Com Hen shouldn’t be mushy or broken, which is why leftover rice works perfectly.

What Clam To Use For The Recipe?

Though the recipe may not specify which clam variety to use, I suggest using freshwater clams instead of saltwater ones. Typically, these clams bury themselves under the mud, yet they don’t have a fishy odor.

Furthermore, these baby clams have a natural sweet taste in their meat. Usually, the clam is about the size of a shirt button.

What Tools Are Needed For Making Com Hen?

To make Vietnamese baby clam rice, you only need simple tools like pot, ladle, and skillet to work the ingredients.

  • Skillet: for cooking the rice and baby clams with other ingredients.
  • Cooking pot: for boiling the clams, whether you buy them live or cooked.
  • Ladle: used for stir-frying and distributing ingredients evenly while cooking.
Com Hen Tools

What Ingredients Are Required For Com Hen?

Here are the basic ingredients for nailing a perfect bowl of Vietnamese baby clam rice, such as the clam meat, shrimp sauce, spices, and leftover rice. Most of these ingredients are available at Asian supermarkets, so you won’t have a tough time finding them.

  • Baby clam meat: The main protein source for the dish. You can buy a pre-cooked version or live baby clams to boil at home:
  • Boiled clam water: You can get this water after boiling the clam. Whether your clams are pre-cooked or live, you need to boil them to get the water for making soup.
  • Vietnamese fermented shrimp sauce: The backbone of the dish’s flavor. You can get this fermented shrimp sauce at Asian supermarkets, just don’t mistake it for the purple fermented shrimp paste.
  • Peanuts: Any type of peanuts should work; you don’t need to be picky with this ingredient.
  • Minced lemongrass: you want to discard the leaf part and only use the fragrant stalk section below the leaf.
  • Minced white stalks of the green onion: Save the green onion section for another recipe and use only the white part of the plant.
  • Pepper, chili powder, and sugar: For simple seasoning to the Vietnamese baby clam rice.
  • Annatto oil: Give the recipe a beautiful color along with an aromatic smell.
  • Cooked leftover rice: Ideally, you want to use leftover rice that has sat through the night already.
  • Bean sprouts: A handful of bean sprouts add a lovely texture to the recipe. I suggest using green bean sprouts for their wide availability.
  • Banana blossom: Don’t buy an entire blossom; only get the sliced version of the banana blossom to use in the recipe.
  • Giant elephant ear (Indian taro): Another addition to the rice bowl. You should eat the stem of the giant elephant ear only.
  • Basil leaves and fish mint: these herbs are great for adding an attractive aromatic flavor to the clam meat.
  • Sliced ginger: For adding extra aroma to the clams and rice.

How To Create A Perfect Bowl Of Vietnamese Baby Clam Rice?

Vietnamese baby clam rice is a dish requiring you to learn how to clean the clams right, how to cook them, and how to get the peanuts ready. You also need to learn how to make a good soup that goes well with it.

How To Prepare Baby Clams?

If you’ve never worked with baby clams before, I suggest getting the pre-cooked package of these mollusks. However, if you insist on using fresh clams, here’s how you can process them.

  • Wash and eliminate any dead clams from your batch.
  • Transfer the clams into a water pot with a bit of salt.
  • Fire up the stove until the water starts boiling, and stir the clam around using your ladle.
  • The meat should separate from the shells from all the stirring and float to the surface.
  • Scoop the meat out and let it cool before rinsing again through cold water.

Step 1: Prepare The Peanuts

Pour Annatto oil into the skillet and wait for the oil to heat up. Then, stir-fry the peanuts until you get a light golden hue. Transfer the peanuts to a small bowl with the heated oil.

Com Hen Step 1 Prepare the Peanuts

Step 2: Stir-Fry The Clam

In the same skillet, you should retain some Annato oil for stir-frying the minced white stalk of green onion.

Com Hen Step 2 Stir-fry the Clam

Proceed to incorporate the baby clams and mix thoroughly to prevent the meat from shrinking. Season the clam with ground pepper, chili powder, sugar, and fermented shrimp sauce.

Com Hen Step 2 Stir-fry the Clam1

Stir constantly to evenly distribute the spices. Then, add a few basil leaves to add more appealing flavors to the clam.

Com Hen Step 2 Stir-fry the Clam2

Step 3: Stir-Fry The Fermented Shrimp Sauce

Heat the pan with Annatto oil and stir-fry the minced lemongrass stalk.

Com Hen Step 3 Stir-fry the Fermented Shrimp Sauce

Continue to put into the skillet fermented shrimp sauce, boiled clam water, and chili powder. Then, you need to stir until the mixture thickens.

Com Hen Step 3 Stir-fry the Fermented Shrimp Sauce1

Step 4: Make An Accompanying Soup

You want to boil the clam water with a bit of the shrimp sauce and stir until the sauce is fully dissolved.

Com Hen Step 4 Make An Accompanying Soup

Step 5: Assemble The Rice Bowl

Assemble the bowl with the rice at the base, followed by raw veggies like bean sprouts, banana blossoms, and giant elephant ear stem. Then, place the clam in the center, accompanied by a sprinkle of stir-fried peanuts.

Make sure to serve the rice bowl along with a warm clam water soup with a few ginger slices. Served with extra fermented shrimp sauce, the rice bowl is best enjoyed when mixing all the ingredients together.

You can pour the soup into the rice bowl or enjoy the two items separately. Don’t forget to adjust the flavor using lime juice or fresh chili.

Com Hen3

What Tips Do You Need To Know For Making Vietnamese Baby Clam Rice?

In this section, you have a good chance to learn about valuable tips for preparing Vietnamese baby clam rice, serving suggestions to enhance your culinary experience, insights on how to store it properly, as well as a handpicked selection of other Vietnamese dishes.

Here are some tips you should know when making Vietnamese baby clam rice:

  • You can swap the rice with thin rice noodles for a different texture.
  • Be creative with your toppings, as Com Hen pairs relatively well with pork rinds or star fruits.
  • If you’re unfamiliar with raw vegetable taste, blanching them can help make the profile milder.
  • If you’re using fresh clams, I suggest soaking them in water with a few chile slices so they can release any sand or mud residue.

What To Serve With Vietnamese Baby Clam Rice?

Regarding side dishes, the rice bowl is mainly customized by adding toppings like pork rinds, starfruits, fried pork fat, or Asiatic pennywort. In Hue, the capital of Thua Thien Hue, locals even usually go for the mentioned toppings.

However, you may also encounter many stores offering fried rice paper or fried wonton wrappers to add a crunchy note to the Com Hen.

Com Hen4

How To Store And Reheat Leftovers?

Vietnamese baby clam rice is designed to serve in one go, so I suggest you enjoy the dish within the day. However, if there’s still leftover, you should wrap the Vietnamese baby clam rice in a plastic food wrapper and chill the dish in a refrigerator for an extra day.

To reheat the dish, you can take the dish out of the refrigerator and give the rice a quick stir-fry. Note that the flavor may be affected if you decide to reheat it.

Com Hen5

What Are Other Vietnamese Dishes For You To Try?

There are many Vietnamese rice-based dishes to explore, aside from Vietnamese baby clam rice. Here are just a few recommendations like Bun Bo Hue, Com Ga Tam Ky, Com Tam, and Com Ga Hai Nam.

  • Spicy Vietnamese beef noodle soup (Bun Bo Hue): a traditional Vietnamese noodle soup known for its bold and spicy flavors. The dish features rice vermicelli noodles, tender slices of beef and pork, and a flavorful broth.
  • Tam Ky chicken rice (Com Ga Tam Ky): a specialty dish originating from Tam Ky city in Vietnam. The recipe features a combination of jasmine rice, poached or steamed chicken, and a side of chicken broth.
  • Vietnamese broken rice with pork ribs (Com Tam): a popular Vietnamese rice dish that typically consists of broken rice (rice fragments), grilled pork chops, a sunny-side-up egg, pickled vegetables, and a side of fish sauce.
  • Hainanese chicken rice (Com Ga Hai Nam): originating from Hainan province in China, the dish is a beloved Vietnamese chicken rice dish. It features tender chicken served with rice cooked in chicken broth and a side of chicken broth or soy sauce-based dipping sauce.

Are You Excited To Give Vietnamese Baby Clam Rice A Try?

I know many may not have heard about Com Hen or Vietnamese baby clam rice before, but the recipe is a great way to explore beyond the commonly popular dish of Vietnam. I hope this guide will soon inspire you to create Com Hen right at home.

In some cases, you may enjoy Com Hen as a standalone meal. Make sure to share this article with other home chefs around you so they, too, can enjoy a bit of Vietnamese cuisine. While at it, you can drop a comment and tell everyone about your thoughts regarding Com Hen.

Com Hen

Com Hen or Vietnamese Baby Clam Rice Recipe

Com Hen, or Vietnamese baby clam rice, is a great way to make full use of your leftover rice alongside unique ingredients. Follow along to make a simple rice bowl more flavorful.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main
Cuisine: Vietnamese
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Calories: 188kcal


  • 17.6 ounces of baby clam meat
  • 200 ml of boiled clam water
  • 5 teaspoons of fermented shrimp sauce
  • Around 3 ounces of peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon of minced lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon of minced white onion stalk
  • 1.5 teaspoons of ground pepper
  • 2.5 tablespoons of annatto oil
  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 5 bowls of leftover rice
  • Bean sprouts
  • Sliced banana blossoms
  • Giant elephant ear
  • Basil leaves
  • Ginger slices


  • Prepare the peanuts by stir-frying them with 2 tablespoons of Annatto oil until they have a lightly golden color. Remove the peanuts with some of the heated oil.
    Com Hen Step 1 Prepare the Peanuts
  • Retain some of the Annatto oil in the skillet to stir-fry the minced white onion stalk.
    Com Hen Step 2 Stir-fry the Clam
  • Quickly add the clam to the skillet to avoid the meat from shrinking and becoming chewy. Season the mixture with 1.5 teaspoons of ground pepper, a teaspoon of chili powder, a teaspoon of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of fermented shrimp sauce.
    Com Hen Step 2 Stir-fry the Clam1
  • Stir the clam meat evenly before adding a few basil leaves for an extra appealing aroma.
    Com Hen Step 2 Stir-fry the Clam2
  • Heat the skillet with half a teaspoon of Annatto oil to stir-fry the minced lemongrass stalk.
    Com Hen Step 3 Stir-fry the Fermented Shrimp Sauce
  • Continue to add two teaspoons of the fermented shrimp sauce with two ladles of boiled clam water and a teaspoon of chili powder. Mix until the concoction becomes thickened.
    Com Hen Step 3 Stir-fry the Fermented Shrimp Sauce1
  • As for the accompanying soup, add a teaspoon of the fermented shrimp sauce to the remaining boiled clam water and stir until the sauce completely dissolves.
    Com Hen Step 4 Make An Accompanying Soup
  • Assemble the bowl with rice at the bottom with toppings like sliced giant elephant ear stems, sliced banana blossom, and stir-fried peanuts. Make sure to serve Com Hen alongside the seasoned soup with a few ginger slices.
    Com Hen3



  • The recipe is for 5 servings.
  • You can use thin rice noodles in place of the rice for a unique twist.
  • Aside from toppings like giant elephant ear stems, banana blossoms, or peanuts, you can opt for sliced star fruits or crunchy pork rinds.
  • You can also poach the raw vegetables so they’re easier to consume with Com Hen.
  • Enjoy Com Hen when hot for the best experience.


Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 22mg | Sodium: 833mg | Potassium: 381mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1725IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 77mg | Iron: 3mg
Tien - Alden

Tien – Alden

Content Writer


Home Cooking, Recipe Development, Food Editor, Beverage Editor, Cooking-video Maker, Asian Food Content Creator


Saigon Tourism College

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  • Focus: Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines.

Advanced Culinary Workshop, Beijing

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Vietnamese Traditional Cooking School

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American College of Vietnam

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Alden is a skilled chef with expertise in Asian cuisines, known for blending traditional Vietnamese and Chinese cooking with contemporary innovations. Alden’s passion for Asian flavors and her creative approach to both food and beverages inspires fellow chefs and those aspiring to enter the field.

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