Glossary - Ingredients

Asari clams

GlossaryAsari

Manila (asari) clams are a shellfish found in inlets throughout Japan. In recent years the demand for Manila clams is high, and in addition to importing, Manila clam nursery production (juvenile clams are spread over a fishing area and raised) is being carried out.
Hime asari and Uramurasaki (large Manila clams) are also part of the Manila clam (asari) family.
Hime asari have a smaller shell and body compared to Manila clams, but there is hardly a difference in taste. Uramurasaki have a shell that can grow up to 8 cm (about 3 in.), and the inside of the shell is purple in color. These have a deeper flavor than Manila clams, but contain a strong sweetness in their orange colored large siphons.

Details

Nutrition

Abundant in vitamin B2, calcium and iron, protein content is about half of that in fish, and Manila clams are low in fat. Since their umami content is high, Manila clams make great dashi (soup stock)!

Connoisseur selection / storage

Manila clams with hard shells and which stick out their siphons when placed in salt water are fresh. Also, those with puffed out shells have thick and juicy muscles. Select shelled clams that are succulent and firm in appearance. Store these in the refrigerator and use them up quickly.

Cooking Tips

For shelled Manila clams, steamed in sake or soup stock, or as an ingredient in stir-fries are recommended cooking methods. For shelled Manila clams, cooking together with rice or boiling is convenient. Although many store-bought Manila clam products have been pre-purged (to remove sand), if time allows, place the Manila clams in a salt solution (concentration: 2 to 3 %) slightly weaker that sea water, and leave these in a cool dark place for 2 to 3 hours. Take extra care in preparing the solution as this shellfish will expire in either of an over-diluted solution or one that is too highly concentrated.

Cooking Basics

Asari clams / shijimi clams - purging shellfish

Even if the package says `pre-purged’, it is a good idea to purge shellfish one more time to be on the cautious side. For this it is important to mimic the environment the shellfish lived in as closely as is possible. Place Manila´╝łasari) clams in a salt solution (about 2%; at 3% a salty taste many remain) slightly weaker than sea water, and place shijimi (tiny fresh water clams) in fresh water. Place both types of shellfish in a large tub and spread them out, fill to the top with either the salt solution or fresh water. Since a dark place facilitates sand purging, cover the tub with a newspaper and leave for at least 30 to 60 minutes. During the summer months, place in a refrigerator to ensure freshness.

Asari clams / shijimi clams - washing shells

Since the shells of shellfish are actually quite dirty, wash by rubbing their shells together in water.

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