This is a wonderful dish that can be made with very little effort if you’re short on time.–Aya Nishimura

Why do I need to soak the clams overnight in salted water?

This helps purge the clams of any sand or grit. Don’t skip this step!

A white enamel wok filled with sake-steamed clams, broth, and scallions.

Sake Steamed Clams

5 / 3 votes
These sake steamed clams, which are gently cooked in sake, ginger, and scallion broth, eat like a restaurant-quality dish but can be easily made at home.
David Leite
Servings2 servings
Calories561 kcal
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes


  • 4 1/4 cups cold water
  • 4 teaspoons (1 oz) sea salt
  • 2 pounds, 4 ounces clams, (preferably littleneck or steamers)
  • 1 ounce fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
  • 8 scallions, cut into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces and sliced into long thin strips
  • 5 ounces (scant 2/3 cup) sake


  • In a large bowl, mix the cold water with the sea salt and stir until the salt has dissolved.
  • Place the clams in a large baking dish or roasting pan and pour the salted water over the clams until they are almost covered. Cover the roasting pan with a towel and leave it in a cool, dark place for 1 hour (or in the fridge overnight).
  • Drain the clams in a colander and rinse them well under cold running water to remove all the grit. Check the clams—they should be tightly closed. Discard any half-opened clams or any that don’t close when tapped.
  • In a large saucepan or wok with lid over medium-high heat, combine the clams, ginger, scallions, and sake and cook until most of the clams are wide open, 5 to 10 minutes. Discard any unopened shells.

Adapted From

Japanese Food Made Easy

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Serving: 1 portionCalories: 561 kcalCarbohydrates: 28 gProtein: 76 gFat: 5 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gTrans Fat: 1 gCholesterol: 153 mgSodium: 6924 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2021 Aya Nishimura. Photo © 2021 Lisa Linder. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I have been meaning to test this recipe for a while now and finally got to it tonight. I was looking for a light dinner after all that Thanksgiving stuffing and found this recipe to be a perfect dinner when accompanied by a salad.

I used mahogany clams but, although flavorful, they were a bit large and chewy. Next time, I will try to get “steamers” as I think they are the perfect size for this recipe.

I served this dish with some warm bread and a glass of chilled sake. I found the clams and the broth had a hint of sake and ginger which when combined with the sweetness of the clams, was delicious.

Seafood lovers and Asian flavor lovers, this recipe is for you! The process for cleaning the clams worked like a charm. Of course, fresh clams are of the utmost importance here.

This dish was so easy to prepare. I used Junmai sake for cooking since Junmai is pure enough for the flavour (kind of like using only wine you would drink in cooking and using virgin olive oil and saving the extra virgin one for finishing).

When strong ginger aromas wafted throughout the kitchen during the cooking of the clams, I was expecting overpowering ginger flavor. That was not the case. The littleneck clams were succulent and the broth was clean yet flavorful with a hint of ginger aftertaste. I served mine with white soy, scallions, and chile flake soba noodles.

Paired wonderfully with Junmai Ginjo sake. If you’re more of a wine drinker, Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre would also do the trick. I tried! We really enjoyed this recipe. Initially paired with Junmai Ginjo sake and it was a great pairing. We had an open bottle of Sancerre and I was going to need Sauvignon Blanc for another recipe so we tried these as well and although the sake was the better option, the wines worked as well. This one is going on my seafood rotation.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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