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.
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.