Cha lala sounds a song. But it is actually stir fried clams. There are many types of shells found in the sea and on the beach.
One common one is siput remis or what we Hokkien referred as siput. Then, there is the triangle, grayish with orangey design type which they usually use to make vongole. We call that ‘giu hwa’.
This type I am referring to is call lala. It is tiny and has thin shells. I bought 500 grams for about RM4. If you are buying such stuffs, remember to buy only from the wet market where it is absolutely fresh, with no fishy smells.
Ask the fishmonger how you should store them if you are not cooking immediately. The lady told me to wash the tiny creatures really clean, leave them in the colander to dry and then, keep in the fridge as I was planning to cook only in the evening.
Cooking is easy. I use:
500 grams of lala
1 fresh, red chilly, sliced thinly
1 stalk spring onion
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
3-4 slices of ginger
Seasoning – Dark soya sauce and light soya sauce, each about 2 teaspoons
Sugar and pepper to taste
Heat wok, put in some oil and stir the garlic, ginger, chilly and spring onion till fragrant. Add in the lala. Put seasoning. When lala are all ‘tongue hanging out, looking dead’, turn off fire and serve immediately.
If you don’t have a lot of time, forget about eating lala. Lalas are meant to be savoured slowly, piece by piece. Best done at home because you can afford to get messy picking up those tiny creatures.
Normally, we will had it after we are done eating rice and other dishes. My children and I love to sit around the dining table and talk and eat the lala. It is fun. That’s why I call it the kuaci of the sea because it is like eating sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
Happy lala day.