All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Asari no sakamushi / steamed clams with sake

A very simple, very flavorful and absolute knockout clam dish.
This is one of the simplest versions of steamed clams in Japanese cooking. See Notes below for variations.

1/2 of recipe:
66 calories; 8.7 g protein; 0.6 g fat; 2.7 g carbohydrate; 2.6 g net carbs; 351 mg sodium; 18 mg cholesterol; 0.1 g fiber


Large handful clams (388 g/17 cleaned clams in photo)
2-3 tbsp sake
Small handful mitsuba (10g in photo)


Chop mitsuba.


In a pan, place clams in a single layer, and pour over sake.

Cover, and heat on medium high to high heat.


When 1/3 of clams have opened, reduce heat to medium low, and cook (covered) for a few more minutes.


Put 2/3 of mitsuba (save 1/3 for topping), cover again, and briefly steam.


Top with remaining mitsuba, and serve hot.

  • Clam prep: Remove sand from clams by soaking them in salted water -- covered to shut out light so clams become active -- for 2 hours to overnight, rub shells against each other, rinse, drain, and let sit for 1 hour before cooking.
  • If mitsuba is not available, use thinly sliced or julienned green onions.
  • Brassica family vegetables in general, including cabbage, broccoli raab, nanohana field mustard and yu choy sum, are also great additions.
  • The above nutrition figures include the liquid produced while steaming, which is not consumed. The actual figures, especially sodium content, should be significantly lower (I have not been able to find a reliable resource to figure out the remaining sodium content in clams).
  • The above figures are based on the assumption that 30% of the total weight of clams is edible (the weight of clam meat is assumed to be 116.4 g in the recipe above). The actual edible proportion varies by clam (shell) size and roughly ranges between 20% and 40%.
  • The liquid is full of flavor and aroma; save it for another use as concentrated dashi (in other words, dilute it a lot before use -- it is loaded with sodium).
  • Some examples of variations commonly prepared by Japanese families:
    • Japanese style: Add ginger, garlic, taka no tsume red chili pepper in combination or by themselves; add unsalted butter and soy sauce (this would be called "asari bataa" at izakaya pubs). 
    • Chinese style: Use Shaoxing wine; add ginger, garlic, taka no tsume red chili pepper in combination or by themselves; garnish with cilantro; add tochi (douchi) fermented black beans; add chopped julienned green/red bell peppers; add sesame oil.
    • Western style: Use white wine; add garlic, parsley, taka no tsume red chili pepper in combination or by themselves; add diced tomatoes, green/red bell peppers; add unsalted butter/olive oil; serve with lemon wedges.

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