Grilled littleneck clams are an iconic Tokyo dish, especially in the old fishermen neighborhoods that ring Tokyo Bay, which was once teeming with shellfish. Called yakihama (from hamaguri, a kind of large clam available in Japan), this cooking tradition reaches back hundreds of years. The littleneck clams that are available here are a good substitute. Mitsuba is a fresh-tasting Japanese herb. If you can’t find it, you can use cilantro or even slivered scallion greens.–Tadashi Ono and Harris Salat
LC Clumsy Around Clams Note
Don’t knock it till you try it. (Though you do need to work quickly and carefully so as not to knock over the sauced clams and tip out their precious liquid.)
Grilled Littleneck Clams Recipe
Hands-On Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 25 minutes | Serves 4
- 24 littleneck clams (larger ones are better)
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sake
- 1/4 cup chopped mitsuba, optional; you can substitute cilantro or julienned scallion greens
- 1. Preheat your grill to medium-hot.
- 2. Rinse the clams under cold running water to remove any caked-on sand or mud. Let drain.
- 3. Whisk together the soy sauce and sake.
- 4. Place about 1/3 to 1/2 of the clams directly on the grill rack. Wait patiently for them to start to open, which should take anywhere from 2 to 4 minutes. As soon as the clams begin to open, working quickly and carefully, use 2 pairs of tongs or 1 pair of tongs and a large spoon to carefully pry open the shells completely. Pour about 1 teaspoon of the soy mixture over each clam. Discard any clams that do not open.
- 5. Continue to grill the clams undisturbed. As soon as the sauce begin to froth and boil, which should take about 1 minute, use the tongs to remove the clams and their juices from the grill. Be careful not to overcook the clams or they’ll turn rubbery. Garnish with the mitsuba, if desired, and serve immediately.
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Grilled Littleneck Clams Recipe © 2011 Tadashi Ono | Harris Salat. Photo © 2011 Jun Takagi. All rights reserved.