Manila clams (asari)
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.
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.
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.