This recipe calls for white or yellow miso, and its motif is delicacy.
36 small hard-shelled clams
7- or 8-inch piece dashi kombu (kelp)
3 tablespoons white or yellow miso
2 teaspoons Japanese soy sauce
2 teaspoons mirin
few drops of yuzu juice (optional)
snipped fresh chives for garnish
very thin julienne of lemon zest for garnish
1. Your little clams probably won't be sandy inside. But if they are, scrub them, and soak them in lightly salted cool water (about 1/4 teaspoon salt for each cup of water) to cover for 30 minutes, or until the shells have opened slightly. Pour off the sandy water and repeat the process twice. Drain the clams and rinse them well.
2. Place the clams in a large pot with 4 cups fresh cold water, add the kombu, and bring to a boil, uncovered, over high heat. The clams will open and the kombu will expand. Discard the kombu just as the water comes to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 3 minutes. Strain the broth into a large bowl through a very fine sieve lined with damp cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
3. Discard any unopened clams. Divide the clams, in their shells, among 6 bowls.
4. Stir together the miso, soy sauce, and mirin in a small bowl, add 1 cup of the warm broth, and stir until smooth. Add the miso mixture to the remaining broth in the large bowl and ladle the broth over the clams in the bowls. Add a few drops of yuzu juice, if available, to each bowl. Garnish soups with the chives and lemon zest and serve immediately.
This light, delicious soup is not as intense as the classic miso soup, which is made from red miso. This one calls for white or yellow miso, and its motif is delicacy. By all means, use tiny clams for this dish -- either Manila clams, New Zealand cockles, or Japanese asari. Yuzu -- one of the many Japanese citrus fruits that's unlike any of ours, and is used extensively in Japanese cooking for its fabulous aromatic rind and its acidic juice -- is available at Japanese groceries in the form of bottled yuzu juice. Serves 6