Thursday, January 03, 2013
Recipe: "Asari Clams Steamed in Sake" from "The Sushi Experience" by Hiroko Shimbo.
Status: Made twice
I used 1 pound of clams, littleneck clams were the smallest that the store had. This recipe is simple and quick. Make sure that you soak in clams in cold water for as long as possible (preferably for 2 to 3 hours), so that the clams eject sand. You can optionally add a bit of salt to the water to make it more like seawater, though it isn't necessary.
Two important parts of this recipe is the amount of sake used (only 1/2 cup), and that the sake is brought to a boil and simmered for 3 minutes, before the clams are added. This allows most of the alcohol to burn away. I recommend even trying a small spoonful, to make sure that it has been cooked long enough, before adding the clams. I think it is also important to use good tasting sake in this recipe from a bottle that has been recently opened (in the past month), since sake is one of the main flavors of this dish.
Previously I tried "Clams Simmered in Sake with Scallions (Asari No Sakamushi)" from "Japanese Farm Food" by Nancy Singleton Hachisu. Even though this recipe is very similar, it didn't work out unfortunately. There is way too much sake in this recipe (I made 1/2 the recipe, which had 1 1/2 cups of sake in it) , the sake isn't heated before the clams are added, and the alcohol didn't burn off before the clams were cooked, so the liquid had an unpleasant hard flavor from the alcohol. The clams were still edible though. To fix the dish, I removed the clams and boiled the sake mixture for an additional 15 minutes, until the alcohol taste was gone, and then combined it back with the clams. This improved the dish, but it was still too alcoholic so I made some seafood broth from it using the left over clam and sake liquid, some extra water, and some shrimp shells (to make broth, I kept the ingredients at a low simmer for one hour and then strained the mixture). This first time that I made this dish, I put one halved bird's eye in the sauce. William said this was too spicy for him, so next time I made it, I used only a tiny pinch of red chili flakes.