Asari Miso Shiru (Miso Soup with Clams)

Posted by on April 11, 2010 in Blog, Japanese Celebrations, Japanese Cuisine Favorites, Soup, Special Occasions | 0 comments

 

Asari miso shiru is so good it could be a meal on its own.

The last time I made this soup was when we hadtemaki sushi (hand-roll sushi). It definitely goes best with sushi but it’s also great with leftovers. My mom and I had the soup with leftover baked sea bass on Friday for lunch and it turned out to be a good meal.

We found fresh katsu asari (manila clams) at Marukai – - they were on sale – - yay! These are fresh farmed in Canada, and while I prefer my fish “wild” and not “farmed”, farmed clams are OK for miso soup.

Possibly the best thing about farmed clams is that they don’t need to soak in a bowl of fresh water for 30 minutes so they can spew out salt water and sand. Just take them out of their package, wash and cook.

My parents used to take us clam digging just north of the Malibu pier. I guess Malibu, CA is where the clams hide out on the Westside of LA County.  (In case any of you are interested in clam digging in Orange County, according to bebe dada, the clams hang out at Huntington Beach.)

My parents used to take both my brother and I clam digging, which worked out well for them because more people meant we could take home more clams. Apparently, there’s a limit on the number of clams one person could take home. My dad claims, “they check your purse to make sure you’re not taking any extra clams.” Not sure when my dad ever carried a purse, but hopefully he’s referring to my mom’s purse… although I asked mom and she says she never took her purse…

After we went clam digging my mom would make sumashi jiru, a Japanese clear soup made with clams, water, and lemon zest. Because the clams were wild, they naturally contained salt which seasoned our soup.

Because farmed clams lack natural sea salt, I use white miso as the basis to flavor my soup.

Asari Miso Shiru (Miso Soup with Clams)

  • 8 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons cooking sake
  • 1/2 teaspoon katsuo dashi
  • 1/4 cup white miso (to start)

1) Boil water and add cooking sake. Boil for 2-3 minutes.

While it helps that I can read some Japanese when grocery shopping (thanks Mom for making me stay in Japanese school for 12 years as much as I hated it – I can proudly read the “sake” kanji), there are definitely signs in English as well as English labels on the back of the bottle if you don’t read Japanese.  When in doubt, the sales associates are very helpful.

2) I use no MSG katsuo dashi purchased at Marukai.  I know the package is in Japanese (again) but I promise the sales associate can help you find this.  There’s also a vegetarian version of this called konbu dashi (seaweed base) in case anyone is interested.

I started with 1/4 cup of white miso but ended up using almost 1/2 cup in total.  While my mom thought my miso soup was a bit too savory for her palate, my family likes a stronger, saltier flavored miso soup.  Please taste the soup as you cook, and adjust the amount of miso to your personal preference.

3) Reduce heat to medium-low and allow miso paste to dissolve. Skim off froth that forms as the soup cooks.

4) Scrub and wash clams. Add to pot. Let cook for 5-6 minutes. Serve while soup is hot.

Fortunately, all of the clams opened. If you find clams that do not open, discard these and do not attempt to eat them. Unopened clams means that they were dead and not fresh.

STORAGE TIP:  According to About.com, clams in the shell must be sold live.   They should be stored in the refrigerator in a porous natural fiber bag such as burlap, or they can be stored in a shallow bowl with a damp cloth.  Because clams need to breathe, never store them in sealed plastic or submerged in water.

If you ever have the chance to go clam digging, I highly recommend it! – - – Have fun!

Judy / bebe mama

 

Asari Miso Shiru (Miso Soup with Clams)
 
Ingredients
  • 8 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons cooking sake
  • ½ teaspoon katsuo dashi
  • ¼ to ½ cup white miso paste, to taste
Instructions
  1. Boil water and add cooking sake. Boil for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add white miso paste to taste.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and allow miso paste to dissolve. Skim off froth that forms as the soup cooks.
  4. Scrub and wash clams. Add to pot. Let cook for 5-6 minutes. Serve while soup is hot.
Notes
After the soup and clams are cooked, if you find any unopened clams, please discard them.

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