The challenge for this week's Shinya Shodukou is Sake Steamed Clams (酒蒸蛤蜊), or in Japanese あさりの酒蒸し (Asari no Sakamushi).
There is a Cantonese saying, "三分材料， 七分師傅", meaning for a good dish, only 30% comes from the ingredients, the skills of the chef accounts for the other 70%. However, when it comes to Sake Steamed Clams, this rule doesn't really apply. This is a very simple dish to make and the secret lies completely within getting the freshest quality clams. Determined to get the best clams out there, I got off work early one afternoon to go to the fresh seafood stall by the pier, only to find out that I forgot it was the fishing moratorium the whole June and July and there were NO fresh clams! I then went to two grocery stores in my neighbourhood and I couldn't even find any frozen clams either.
In desperate circumstances you call for desperate measures. I called up my favourite restaurant in town for white wine steamed clams and the owner/chef (let’s call him Chef N) was very kind to sell me some of their raw clams. Their clams are freshly shipped from the US three times a week and I’m pretty sure these are some of the best clams I could possibly find out there. With these clams, I knew I was well on my way to success already!
Chef N also generously shared with me the techniques of making the perfect white wine steamed clams that they serve in the restaurant. I took his advice but substituted the ingredients with what I think would add a bit of Japanese touch and the outcome was irresistibly good! After we finished the clams, Mr. Bear made some plain white somen noodles to go with the broth to make sure not a drop of it is going to waste.
Because of how easy it is, this recipe is going into my collection of Lazy Man's Recipes, provided you get good clams, of course! ;)
Serves 2 as an appetizer, 1 as an entree
500g (~1 lb) fresh clams
1 bunch of mitsuba (Japanese three-leaf parsley), cut stems into 1 inch strips and leave the tips (the three leaves as garnish)
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and finely julienned
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
A dash of black pepper
1. Remove the sand from the clams by adding them into a bowl of heavily salted cold water (so that it tastes like sea water). Cover the bowl with damp newspaper. The clams will relax and spit out the sand. Rinse well before cooking.
2. In a shallow pot with a lid (Chef N said the lid is the key!), heat the olive oil and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallot, ginger, garlic and mitsuba stems and fry until fragrant. Sprinkle black pepper.
3. Add the clams to the pot and add sake until the liquid covers about 1/3 of the height of the clams. Cover and simmer for 2.5-3 minutes or until the clams open.
4. Taste one clam, the juice released from it should be salty enough. If not, adjust the flavour by adding salt or water to match your taste.
5. Scatter with mitsuba leaves and serve hot.
Let's take a look at other member's Sake Steamed Clams.