Asari Butter Clams (or Manila Clams in Soy Butter) is one of my favourite comfort foods ever. It’s simple, flavourful, and pairs well with sticky Japanese rice. It’s a match made in heaven for me.
Back in Manila, I had a go-to restaurant that served the most satisfying batch of Asari Butter, but the last time I visited that restaurant, I came out with a mild case of food poisoning and a bad case of diarrhea. I’ve never visited that restaurant since that unfortunate encounter, but the taste of their Asari Butter clams still lingered.
So, I Googled a recipe, tweaked some ingredients, and the result was a surprisingly good dish. Didn’t add any sake (because we didn’t have any in the pantry), but the recipe still worked. I was really happy with how this dish came out—mainly because I was able to satisfy my craving—but also because it was extremely easy to prepare.
INGREDIENTS (makes 2 portions; or 1 if you’re greedy)
1 pack shelled manila clams (I got mine frozen from a Japanese grocery)
3 tsp. chopped garlic
1/3 block of unsalted butter
2 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce (I used Kikkoman)
Juice of half a lemon
Chopped spring onions for garnish
PREPARATION (around 10 minutes)
Thaw the clams if you got them frozen from the grocery. I actually forgot to thaw mine so I steamed them in the rice cooker instead until they were not icy anymore—but not fully cooked because they would go in the skillet later.
Heat up the skillet. Add oil and butter.
Add in the chopped garlic, followed by the soy sauce and lemon juice.
Stir in the clams and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes.
Remove the skillet from the heat, and transfer the clams into a serving bowl.
Sprinkle with chopped spring onions.
Serve warm with a good serving of (preferably Japanese) rice.
I was scrolling through my Instagram, and I saw my friend Tabitha’s IG story. She was experimenting on some Shiitake Mushroom Tempura with Ginger Sauce—and it looked really good. I remembered in an instant that my friend Lui (who also happens to be my roomie) asked what we could do with her extra mushrooms. And of course, I already had an idea thanks to Tabitha.
These mushroom fritters are all-veg, are bathed in egg, and then coated with Panko breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese before frying. Compared to the more generic breadcrumbs, Panko is used in Japanese cuisine and is made from crust-less bread. Because of its airy and light texture, it yields to flakier and crispier fried food. It’s a bit pricier than regular breadcrumbs, and I didn’t have much of a choice because this was the only available breadcrumb in the grocery. The Ginger-Mango Sauce was Lui’s, and it conveniently came in a bottle (but I’m sure there are lots of recipes in Google). We tried it with an avocado dip, and it fell flat. Tabitha used a ginger sauce, so I guess what complements this dish are sauces that are punchy and are more on the tangier side (Asian sauces; particularly Vietnamese nuoc chams and Thai nam jims that you can get in bottles, maybe even a fresh marinara, or even ketchup). But it any case, it’s addictive and pairs well with creamy scrambled eggs with gouda! Lui and I had this for brunch today, and here’s how we made it.
INGREDIENTS (makes 2 portions)
1 pack brown mushrooms
2.5 cups Panko breadcrumbs
2 cups Parmesan cheese (grated)
Oil (for frying)
Chopsticks for dredging the mushrooms
PREPARATION (around 15-20 minutes)
Slice the mushrooms from top-to-bottom. Leave the stems if you like (we do).
Heat up your skillet. Make sure that the heat is spread evenly. We use an electric stove in the apartment, so it’s a bit tricky.
While heating up the skillet to super-high heat, prepare your work station where you’ll separate your wet ingredient (the egg) from the dry.
Crack your egg in one bowl.
In a separate container, place in your Panko breadcumbs, Parmesan cheese, S&P, and thyme, and then mix.
Add your oil into the pan.
Lower the heat to medium, and using chopsticks, dip a mushroom slice into the egg, then into the Panko mixture. Do this for the other mushrooms until the whole pan is occupied.
Keep face-down for 1-2 minutes or until the side is golden brown. (Don’t be impatient and check if it’s done after 30 seconds or else the breadcrumb mixture will separate from the mushroom.)
Flip mushrooms and cook until the other side is golden brown.
Place paper towels on a plate and put the mushrooms on top so that the paper towels absorb all the oil.
Serve with the gingery mango sauce, or any sauce you want!
Moving to Singapore and learning to survive on my own was one of the best things that happened to me in 2016. I won’t say that I’m a pro at solo living (far from it); there are days when I miss the convenience and comfort of home (not having to pay for rent and utilities are on the top of the list), but there are days when I enjoy tiny victories such as having successfully removed a stubborn stain with baking soda, unplugging a jammed pop-up sink plug with silicone suction disks, or cooking a meal that I enjoy such as this one below.
Also, I miss working in the food industry terribly! I used to be a food writer and editor back in Manila, so I wanted to ease my way into food writing again, among other topics, through this blog.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting different ways on how to make just the right portion of food for me to eat on the same day and take to work with me the next day. I thought I’d start by sharing some recipes that I make at home by myself because:
I live on my own (with awesome roomies)
I live on my own abroad
I get tired of eating the same thing over and over and over again
I don’t like washing the dishes, so I keep these meals as simple as can be
I like exploring different flavours
I am picky with my food (I dislike capsicum and carrots)
I am always “on a budget”, but end up spending a little over – but will do it for food
I’m lazy on most days
I love to cook—it’s therapy and stress-relieving for me. “Cooking, to me, is meditation…” – Jeong Kwan
I aim to share a recipe or two each week!
So, for the pilot episode of this series, I’ll share with you a recipe I made for Sunday lunch+dinner (linner? dunch?) – Mixed Mushroom Japanese Curry with Egg and Nori Furikake.
This is my quick fix to curb a Coco Ichibanya craving (but I don’t want to spend so much on a plate of curry that I can’t finish). I am faaar from mastering the art of curry—not that I intend to in this lifetime—so I just use S&B Golden Curry in mild because I’m a heat wuss. When the sauce cools down, it turns into this gravy-like slurry that’s punchy and umami-filled. I store this dish in two Tupperware containers, separating the sauce and the mushrooms, in case I want to have just the curry or just the mushrooms. But I’ve never regretted having them both at once.
INGREDIENTS (makes 2-3 portions)
1 packet of S&B Golden Curry
5 cups of water (the instructions on the curry box say 6, but I find 5 to work better)
1 tbsp. EVOO
2 tbsp. butter
Mushrooms (I used a combination of brown mushrooms, shimeji, and enoki—love that springy bite)
Chopped spring onions
Nori furikake (optional but highly recommended)
Fire up the stove. In a saucepan, add 5 cups of water and bring to a boil.
Add the packet of S&B Golden Curry and lower the heat, lest you want curry sauce splattering over that nice clean shirt. Obviously, it happened to me.
Once the curry has dissolved and thickened, set aside.
In a clean saucepan, heat up some oil and melt the butter. Do not wash the mushrooms before cooking—just brush them with a paper towel. I read somewhere that this allows the mushrooms to absorb the flavour better; contact with water tampers the mushrooms’ flavour-absorbing quality.
Cook and wait for them to brown and soak up all the butter (makes up for the meatless quality of this dish). Add salt and pepper, and then set aside.
To assemble, pile up some rice, then ladle on some curry.
Demolish and keep the leftovers for your office lunch or dinner the next day—or both.
This is Nori Furikake.
Furikake is a type of Japanese seasoning that you can get in any Japanese grocery made with aromatics, dried fish, sesame seeds, salt, sugar—basically, a blend of ingredients that induces this sublime and addictive flavour known as umami. For sure this stuff’s got MSG. But it’s a quick way to make your rice bowl less lonely and more flavourful.
On some days, I just heat some rice in the microwave, crack a raw egg on top, add a bit of soy sauce, sprinkle furikake, and that’s the dish!
It’s one of my pantry staples, and if you’re the type who just needs quick comfort food. Furikake will become your best friend.