The sauce base is made up of leeks, shallots and miso, which give a sweet and buttery flavor. The saké really evens things out with some acidity and then the natural clam juice adds to the complexity of the flavor. I just had to recreate it for you.
This recipe is definitely something different for me for two reasons: clams and saké. I don’t typically cook with either, much less a combination of the two. But when I was visiting the parental unit a few months ago, Lanny busted out with another one of his Asian inspired meals and I found the ingredient combination of saké, miso, asparagus and clams both delicious and intriguing.
I know what you’re thinking. But clams are nothing to be afraid of—the clams are the easy part. Let’s just put them in a bowl of water for washing and set them aside for now while we talk about that saké miso sauce. You’re going to sauté some leeks, shallots and garlic in a little olive oil and butter until they soften up. Then you’ll add some soy sauce and pepper and your miso paste.
*Note: Remember that you have to mix the miso paste with water (1 to 2 ratio) first in order to thin it out enough to cook with. Otherwise it’ll never incorporate into your sauce (it’ll get all gooey and clumped up). I suggest using the back of a spoon to mash the miso paste with water until it’s the consistency of gravy, then add it to the sauce.
Once your miso is all mixed up in there, you just add the saké, a little water, the asparagus and clam buddies. When the clams open up, the asparagus should also be ready (if you’re using thin asparagus, which is what I recommend). If you’re using those thick asparagus, just add them to the liquid a couple minutes before the clams. Either way, once the clams open up, they’re done! Turn the heat off or they’ll overcook and be chewy! And don’t eat the ones that don’t open!
This recipe is incredibly easy. I served with rice this time, but I imagine it would also be great tossed with some Asian noodles.
In the end, I decided to top each clam with a drop of sriracha hot sauce. I know it totally looks like blood in these photos, but don’t let that dissuade you, it tastes great with the extra heat.
RecipeCoop/prep time: 30 mins. Serves 2. If you’re using thin asparagus (which is what I recommend), once the clams open up the asparagus should also be ready. But, if you’re using those thick asparagus, just add them to the liquid a couple minutes before the clams so they are ready at the same time.
- Leeks (about 2 cups chopped)
- About 20 live clams depending on size
- About 15 stalks of asparagus
- 1 shallot
- A couple tablespoons of olive oil
- About ¼-½ cup of water
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1½ tablespoons of miso paste (red or white)
- Juice from half a lime or lemon
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon of black pepper
- Trim off base of asparagus and wash. Soak and then rub clams clean. Set aside.
- To prepare miso: in a small bowl, mash miso paste (using back of spoon) with a little water until it is the consistency gravy. Set aside.
- Cut leeks into slivers. Dice a large shallot and clove of garlic. Sauté leeks, shallot and garlic with olive oil and butter. Keep partially covered.
- Once leeks soften, add miso, saké and water, soy sauce and pepper and cover. When liquid begins to simmer, add asparagus and clams and lemon juice. Cook covered until clams open up and then remove from burner.
- Immediately remove pan from burner when clams open up to avoid over cooking. Discard the clams that do not open.
- Put a drop of sriracha hot sauce on each clam and serve with rice or over noodles.