Miso soup with clams and chives

  (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times)

 

Miso soup with clams and chives

Total time: 30 minutes, plus overnight soaking time for the clams

Servings: 4

Note: You can make a second batch of dashi by combining the used bonito flakes and kombu seaweed in a saucepan with 4 cups of water. Bring it to a boil over medium heat and then simmer for about 5 minutes. Strain and discard the bonito flakes and kombu seaweed. Use the dashi for miso soups, seasoning, etc. It will not be as flavorful as the first batch, but it is still good.

1 pound small cherrystone clams (8 to 10 clams)

1 tablespoon salt mixed with 4 cups water

3 1/2 cups prepared dashi (see below)

3 to 3 ½ tablespoons miso

1 tablespoon sake

Chives for garnish

1. Rinse the clams well. Soak in the salt water overnight.

2. Drain the clams in a strainer.

3. Pour the dashi into a medium-sized saucepan. Add the clams and cook over low heat until one of the clams opens, then increase the heat to high and cook until all the clams are open. Remove from heat. Skim the surface of any foam and discard.

4. Remove the clams from the saucepan and pour the broth through a paper towel-lined strainer, then return it to the saucepan. Remove half the clams from their shells, leaving the other half attached. Discard the empty shells.

5. Thin the miso with one-half cup of the broth. Taste the broth, and add enough of the thinned miso to lend flavor without making the broth too salty (the amount needed will vary depending on the salinity of the dashi and the saltiness of the miso; you might not use all the miso).

6. Stir the sake into the broth, then add the clams (both in and out of the shell). Bring to a simmer.

7. Divide the broth and clams between 4 bowls. Serve, garnished with chives.

Dashi:

1. To make the broth, take 1 (6-inch long) piece of dashi kombu and make several crosswise slits into it using scissors. Steep the kombu in 4 cups water over medium heat, just until the water comes to a rapid simmer (it must not boil).

2. Remove from heat and add one-half cup cold water. Cool the liquid for a couple of minutes, then add 2 cups dried bonito flakes (katsuobushi). Do not stir. When the bonito flakes have settled near the bottom, after about 3 minutes, strain the mixture using a fine-mesh strainer or a sieve lined with a paper towel and discard the flakes. Do not stir the stock, as it will cloud the dashi, which should have a light golden color. This makes 3 ½ cups dashi broth.

Each serving: 57 calories; 6 grams protein; 5 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 1 gram fat; 0 saturated fat; 11 mg. cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 713 mg. sodium.