Nampo petrol clam BBQ is without a doubt the most unique and quintessential DPRK culinary experience available and no visit to the west coast port town of Nampo is complete without trying this very North Korean way of preparing clam BBQ.
As you can probably guess by the title, Nampo petrol clam BBQ is exactly what it sounds like. A BBQ of freshly sourced clams from the yellow sea cooked with a secret ingredient – petrol!
Process of cooking petrol clams
Typically prepared by the driver of your tour group the process of cooking petrol clams goes like this:
- The first step is to arrange the clams on a BBQ stand starting from the centre and moving outwards
- Once the clams have been nicely arranged the next is to apply petrol onto the clams (typically the petrol is kept in a plastic bottle with a hole punctured through the lid)
- With a lighter set the clams on fire and begin the BBQ
- Add more petrol as needed and cook the clams for roughly 10 minutes
- Armed with a bottle of soju (it is believed by Koreans alcohol will kill any of the remaining bacteria from the clams) dig into the petrol clams and enjoy. The golden rule is that any clams that opened during the cooking process or any clams that are very difficult to open are best avoided.
In August 2019, we took YouTube legend Simon Wilson with us on tour to North Korea. Check out this video guide to the petrol clams experience.
How Does Nampo Petrol Clam BBQ taste?
Surprisingly good! If you’re into seafood, we highly recommend trying. Most people (not all!) are pleasantly surprised by the taste. The clams are cooked facing downwards, so it isn’t like you are ingesting a massive amount of petrol, and even if you don’t like them, it’s definitely worth the bragging rights that you have tried clams cooked in petrol while in North Korea.
Not visiting Nampo on your tour to North Korea, but still want to try petrol clams?
Don’t despair! While the dish is most famous in the city of Nampo, you can actually enjoy petrol clams all over the country. If you are coming on tour with us, there is a decent chance you will be staying at the Sosan Hotel, and during the spring, summer and fall seasons, it is possible to arrange a petrol clam BBQ in the hotel’s outdoor beer garden area. Ask your YPT tour guide for availability while on tour.
Tours that visit the remote North Hamngyong Province, such as our Real Deal Tour will also have the chance to try petrol clam BBQ at North Korea’s only home stay village.