Steaming Large Clams with Dashi & Sake

Steaming Large Clams with Dashi & Sake

Learn how to prepare delicious sake-steamed clams using traditional Japanese cooking methods. This recipe includes soaking the clams in salt water, preparing kombu dashi, and steaming the clams with sake. The result is incredibly tender clams in a flavorful broth, perfect for any seafood lover. Find out the reason behind starting the clams on a dry skillet and discover more about Japanese-style cooking in this article.

I found these big, hunky clams at the farmers market this weekend, each at least 2 inches across. But how to prepare them? My wife Momo found a bunch of recipes online, but we decided to go as simple as possible -- steam them with sake. I talked about sake-steaming clams in one of my earliest blog posts (written over four years ago already, wow!) but the method we found online was different. Instead of combining the clams and sake in a saucepan and turning on the heat, as I did in the earlier recipe, this method instructed us to start by heating the clams in a dry pan, then add liquid once the clams opened. So here's what we did: I soaked a dozen clams in salt water overnight to get them to expel sand and dirt (keeping them in the fridge). Then Nobuko, my M-I-L, prepared 2 cups of kombu dashi, adding a pinch of salt to the liquid, and setting aside. She arranged the clams in a dry cast iron skillet, covered the skillet and placed it over high heat. After about 7 or so minutes, the clams opened up. Nobuko uncovered the skillet and added the dashi. When the dashi started to boil, she poured in about 1/2 cup sake. When the liquid boiled again, she swirled in soy sauce, I'm guessing about a tablespoon. That was it, the clams were ready: Nobuko plated the clams with the broth in individual bowls. (While Nobuko was working the stove, I chopped scallions for garnish, which I sprinkled atop the clams.) The clams were incredibly tender and so, so delicious, as was the broth. But I wondered, what was the point of starting the clams on the dry skillet, rather than in dahi and sake? Nobuko wasn't sure, but thought it was more appropriate for larger clams. I'm not sure either. Anyone out there know the answer, or have an opinion? If so, please post them in the comments! Thanks...