Miso soup with Manila clams
West Coast Manila clams are small, tender clams that cook very quickly. They work well in this simple low-calorie soup, made by stirring miso into water and adding a little of the clam cooking broth. Too much broth will overpower the miso, so be prudent.
When cooking the clams, most of them will open as the water begins to boil. Quickly remove them from the saucepan to prevent overcooking, which results in tough clams. Throw away any that don’t open. (The reverse holds true for clams before cooking--if the shell is already open and doesn’t close when tapped, throw the clam away. It’s probably dead and could be contaminated.)
You’ll find the clams at fish markets. And pick up dashi, the instant Japanese soup base, at Japanese and Asian markets, as well as some well-stocked supermarkets.
Scrub the clams under running water with a small brush to remove any sand or dirt. Place the clams in a large saucepan and add 1 1/2 cups of the water. Cover the pot and heat over high heat until the water is boiling and steam comes from the pot. Turn off the heat. At this point the clams should be open. If they are not open, continue to cook another minute or so until they open.
Remove the clams from the broth. Strain the broth through a cheesecloth and measure 1 cup for the soup. Use the remaining broth for another recipe or freeze for future use.
Combine the remaining 4 cups of water and the dashi in a saucepan and heat to boiling. Stir in the reserved 1 cup of clam broth and miso until blended.
Divide the clams among 4 shallow serving bowls. Pour the broth over them, dividing evenly. Sprinkle each serving with the snipped chives.
Garnish with a daikon curl and a few chives.
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