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


Lunch, March 29, 2014

Our neighbors brought us fresh clams on their way back from Oregon the other day, and it was a real wake-up call about what we had been missing. Clams are common in the Japanese diet (prepared in Japanese, Western and Chinese styles in particular), but after coming to the US we had forgotten about them, partly due to their low visibility at stores. In addition, each time an occasional closure of nearby recreational clamming sites due to pollution was announced, we drew further away from the creature. But once you find a reliable source, the delicious experience clams offer is worth the time spent on prep.

  • Gohan / steamed rice, with roasted sesame seeds (130 g steamed rice in photo; 218 kcal; 1 mg sodium)
  • Asari no misoshiru / miso soup with clams (33 kcal; 297 mg sodium)
  • Moyashi to horenso no gomaae / bean sprouts and spinach in sesame dressing (43 kcal; 48 mg sodium)
  • Hakusai to tamago no okakaitame / stir-fried napa cabbage and egg with bonito flakes (75 kcal; 121 mg sodium)

Total calories & sodium content: 369 kcal; 467 mg sodium


Gee, it's so easy to make a low-calorie meal with Japanese food ... I suppose that being low-calorie mainly due to being low-fat is the reason people say Japanese food is healthy. The above figures, except for the ones for steamed rice, are for a half portion of each dish I made. Besides Tom eating more rice (210 g: 353 kcal/2 mg sodium), I serve Tom 10-20% more, and the actual total calories and sodium content for him would be 523 kcal and 523 mg, respectively. This lunch turned out to be a super light meal for us, and we both had a thin slice of ricotta cheesecake with walnuts (leftover from a dinner party with friends) later to fill up.

The simple miso soup with clams definitely brings out a big "wow" from both of us. Its powerful aroma is stimulating even while cooking, and it continues at the table. The intense flavor of the clams themselves fills your mouth immediately as you take a sip.

The sweet note of hakusai counters the saltiness of clams. The quick hakusai stir fry is further softened by egg, which also adds a rich tone. Katsuobushi bonito flakes with their concentrated flavor of the sea are a nice final touch that stops this dish – and many others -- from sliding down the slippery slope of being "too gentle."

We had a small amount of moyashi mung bean sprouts waiting in the fridge. I paired them with spinach and made my typical gomaae with tahini. Moyashi's crispy texture is very pleasant and is also a clear contrast with the soft texture of hakusai and egg as well as with the chewiness of clams.

Nutrition data varies by region, and differences by harvest site can be significant. USDA data (601 mg sodium/100 g edible portion of clams) is for mixed species and is an average of samples collected from 20 retail stores nationwide (a huge area); I cannot find local numbers. Japanese data says 870 mg sodium per 100 g edible portion of clams. While US data should be more relevant for us, I wish the data was more local.

(Last updated: April 9, 2014)

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