Wee Meals: Asari Butter Clams

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.

Asari Butter Clams

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)
  • Oil
  • 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)

  1. 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.
  2. Heat up the skillet. Add oil and butter.
  3. Add in the chopped garlic, followed by the soy sauce and lemon juice.
  4. Stir in the clams and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat, and transfer the clams into a serving bowl.
  6. Sprinkle with chopped spring onions.
  7. Serve warm with a good serving of (preferably Japanese) rice.

Zenbu Ramen at Marutama Ramen, Singapore

One of my favourite ramen bowls can be found in Liang Court, Singapore, where 90% of the stores are Japanese. They have Uniqlo, a Kinokuniya, and Meidi-ya, which is a sizable grocery stocked with Japanese goods. Liang Court is my favourite mall in Singapore. And Marutama Ramen can be found on its second floor. A homey, no-frills Japanese restaurant, their menu constitutes of only six types of ramen. I’ve only tried one (and have stuck to one since)—the Zenbu Ramen.

Zenbu Ramen (S$19++)

Marutama uses chicken broth, which makes it a tamer, lighter alternative to the thick, unctuous, and almost-gelatinous tonkotsu variety. The taste is mild and glazes the palate with a harmonious blend of clean meaty flavours.

Now, not everyone adheres to chicken based broth, but I like because it makes me feel less guilty about inhaling an entire bowl of the stuff. It comes with ramen noodles that are thinner-than-usual, but are cooked until it has that nice al-dente bite. Three slices of char siu are fanned on the side; they are deceivingly pale but are packed with bold porcine flavours. The same goes with the kakuni, cubes of stewed pork belly that come with divine, alternating layers of fat and meat. You know they marinate their meat well at Marutama.

A generous sprinkling of garlicky negi is placed on the side, and opposite that rests a pristine pile of aosa, a special type of seaweed grown in very pure seawater. In the middle rests the signature ajitsuke tamago, whose soft exterior yields a creamy, golden yolk—the crowd pleaser.

They’ve got condiments such as garlic chips, but I hold back because I find the garlic flavour too pungent that it clashes with and overpowers the light chicken broth. Sides such as gyoza, karaage, and chawan mushi are also available, but I’ve been sticking to my guns and consistently ordering only this Zenbu Ramen at Marutama. Maybe I’ll try the others next time.

MARUTAMA RAMEN (LIANG COURT)
177 River Valley Road
#02-01/02 Liang Court Shopping Centre
Singapore 179030
P: +65 6837-2480

(All meals are paid for myself unless stated otherwise.)