A couple of weeks ago, I bought a kilo and a half of fresh clams not knowing exactly whether I would use them for a pasta dish or a soup. By the time they had been soaked and cleaned, I felt it would be boring to cook them in just any old familiar way. A kilo became the clam and onion tart and the remaining half kilo went into this miso soup.
The base for miso soup is dashi, made by simmering kelp (an edible seaweed) and shavings of bonito (skipjack tuna), and straining the liquid. The unusual flavor has come to be known as umami or the “fifth flavor.”
Now, imagine umami combined with the distinct flavor of clams.
This miso soup with fresh clams is a good alternative for the rather heavy ham bone based soups associated with Holiday cooking. Clams are easily available in most wet markets at any time of the year. For those living in countries where fresh clams are hard to come buy, you can use canned — just remember to include the juices in the soup.
- 500 grams fresh clams
- 1 packet of dashi
- patis (fish sauce), to taste
- 1 tablespoon Japanese miso paste
- 2 to 3 tablespoons finely sliced onion leaves
Soak the clams in water for several hours, changing the water every two hours or so, to expel the sand inside the shells. Drain and wash until the liquid is clear and free from traces of sand.
Pour about six cups of water into a pot. Add the dashi. Bring to a gentle boil. Add the clams and cook just until the shells open.
Turn off the heat. Season the soup with patis.
Pour about half a cup of the hot broth into a cup, add the miso paste and mix until the paste is completely dissolved. Pour into the soup and stir.
Ladle the soup into individual bowls. Sprinkle with onion leaves. Serve hot.