An Easy Shellfish to Cook at Home – Asari

live a sari

Asari (Ruditapes philippinarum) Japanese littleneck clams

Asari, Japanese littleneck clams, are in the market now and may be some of the easiest shellfish to cook with at home. We picked these up at Tsukiji Market and put them in water to get rid of any sand and grit. It’s best to do this overnight if you can. We wash the clams in water and then put them in a bowl of water and cover with aluminum foil. When we put the clams in the bowl they were all closed shut. Check out how much they opened up overnight. Be sure to make time to rid the clams of sand or don’t bother making them. It can be very frustrating to bite into a sandy clam.

Asari pasta

Asari vongole

Perhaps the easiest recipe is to simply steam the clams in saké with a bit of salt. That of course is best served with some of the saké that it is steamed in. Our next favorite is to sauté some garlic in olive oil, add white wine and the clams and let them open up and then add some pasta for a quick vongole. Our three-year old loves this and requests it often.

Asari miso soup

Asari, daikon, and daikon greens miso soup

Finally, boiling the clams in water and adding miso makes for a quick and easy miso soup. This bowl here we had cooked some daikon in the water before adding the asari and then garnished with finely minced daikon greens.

Look for asari at the supermarket in the seafood section. It is usually sold packed on styrofoam trays and wrapped in plastic wrap. I usually pay only about 250 to 400 JPY for a pack that feeds three of us. Asari should be eaten as soon as possible. They will not keep long so only buy when you are ready to eat, usually later that day or for the next day.

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January Seasonal Japanese Seafood 1月旬の魚

Sake Steamed Kumamoto Asari

Saké Steamed Asari Clams

The seafood in winter is rich with fat as the fish protects itself from the cold waters. Some sashimi eaten this time of year will be a bit oily as a result. As always, we love to have most seafood as sashimi when possible, like buri, sawara, hirame and hotate. Shinji in particular has a soft spot for kanburi or winter buri from Himi port in Toyama. He loves it as sashimi but it is also good as teriyaki or in the classic dish buri daikon – simmered with daikon in a slightly sweet soy broth. Kinmedai is also lovely when simmered in a soy broth as nitsuke.

Shijimi, little tiny clams, are ideal in miso soup. Asari can be steamed in saké or served with pasta as vongolé. And, of course, if you can get your hands on any of the crab this time of year, indulge!

Aozakana, literally blue fish, are the fishy fish in the mackerel family like saba and sawara. Sawara can be marinated in a sweet Saikyo miso and grilled, the miso helps to cover some of the intense fish flavor. Saba is nice simmered in miso in a traditional dish preparation called misoni. Shime saba is the term for saba that has been marinated in a sweet rice vinegar, essentially pickling it. Finally, each January we usually have ankou nabe, a hot pot of monkfish. We save the liver to prepare it as ankimo, often called “foie gras of the sea”. It is simple to prepare, see the recipe here.

Crab

If you click on the name of the seafood in Japanese you should be directed to a photo of the seafood.

K7

Hokkaido Magaki Oyster

Akagai 赤貝 ark shell (Scapharca broughtonii)

Akagarei  赤鰈 flathead flounder (Hippoglossoides dubius)

Amadai  赤甘鯛 tilefish (Branchiostegus japonicus)

Ankou  鮟鱇 monkfish (Lophiomus setigerus)

Asari  浅利 littleneck clams (Ruditapes philippinarum)

Benizuwaigani  楚蟹  red snow crab   (Chionoecetes japonicus)

sashimi

 

Wild Hokkaido Buri Sashimi

Buri 鰤 Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Buri 101 – Everything you need to know about yellowtail

Chidai  血鯛  crimson sea bream (Evynnis japonica)

Hamaguri  浜栗  common Orient clam  (Meretrix lusoria)

Hirame 鮃 olive flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus)

Hira suzuki  平鱸  blackfin Japanese seabass (Lateolabrax latus)

Houbou 魴 gurnard (Chelidonichthys spinosus)

Hokke 𩸽 arabesque greenling (Pleurogrammus azonus)

Honmaguro 本鮪 bluefin tuna (Thunus thynnus)

Maguro 101 – Everything you need to know about tuna

Hoshigarei  星鰈  spotted halibut (Verasper variegatus)

Hotate 帆立貝 scallops (Patinopecten yessoensis)

Itoyoridai 糸縒鯛 golden threadfin-bream (Nemipterus virgatus)

Kaki 牡蠣 oyster (Crassostrea gigas)

Kanburi 寒鰤 winter Japanese amberjack (see buri) (Seriola quinqueradiata)

* The port of Himi in Toyama is famous for its kanburi.

Kinmedai– 金目 (sometimes called kinme) splendid alfonsino (Beryx splendens)

Maaji 真鯵 Japanese jack mackerel (Trachurus japonicus)

Madai or tai 真鯛 seabream (Pagurus major)

Madara or tara 真鱈 Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus)

Maiwashi 真鰯 Japanese sardine (Sardinops melanostictus)

Matsuba gani 松葉蟹 spiny crab (Hypothalassia armata)

Matsukawa  松皮鰈  barfin flounder (Verasper moseri)

Mekajiki  女旗魚  swordfish (Xiphias gladias)

Oma honmaguro 大間鮪 bluefin tuna from Oma in Aomori (see honmaguro)

Saba 鯖 Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Sawara 鰆 Japanese Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus niphonius)

Shijimi 大和蜆 corbicula clams (Corbicula japonica)

Soudagatsuo 騒多鰹 frigate mackerel (Auxis thazard)

Surumeika 鯣烏賊 Japanese flying squid (Todarodes pacificus)

Tairagai 平貝 pen shell or fan shell (Atrina (Servatrina) pectinata)

Tarabagani 鱈場蟹 Alaska king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus)

Tsubugai つぶ貝 whelk  (Buccinum undatum)

Yanagi dako 柳蛸 chestnut octopus (Octopus conispadiceus)

Yari ika 槍烏賊 spear squid (Loligo (Heterololigo) bleekeri)

December Seasonal Japanese Seafood 12月旬の魚

ankimo

ankimo

asari pasta

asari pasta

buri kamayaki

buri kamayaki

Winter has arrived in Tokyo. The waters surrounding the island nation are cold in most parts of the country and the fish are rich with fat. At the moment Shinji, my husband who is a fishmonger, is crazy about wild buri (yellowtail) from Hokkaido. We look for the kama (collar) of the buri and other larger fish to salt and grill. He’s also excited as up until now the monkfish in the market has been imported but now that it’s cold the monkfish is domestic and he loves to make ankimo (monkfish liver). It’s often called “foie gras of the sea”. And while the texture and appearance is similar to foie gras it’s not as rich in fat. We also love kinmedai as nitsuke, simply simmered in a soy and saké broth with a bit of ginger. As for clams, we love asari in pasta and shijimi for miso soup.

Akagarei – 赤鰈 flathead flounder (Hippoglossoides dubius)

Amadai – 赤甘鯛 tilefish (Branchiostegus japonicus)

Ankou – 鮟鱇 monkfish (Lophiomus setigerus)

Asari – 浅利 littleneck clams (Ruditapes philippinarum)

Bora – 鯔 flathead gray mullet (Mugil cephalus cephalus)

Buri – 鰤 Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Fugu – 河豚 blowfish or puffer fish (Takifugu porphyreus)

Hata Hata – 鰰 sailfin sandfish (Arctoscopus japonicus)

Hirame – 鮃  olive flounder (Paralichthys olivaceus)

Honmaguro – 本鮪 bluefin tuna (Thunus thynnus)

Houbou – 魴 gurnard (Chelidonichthys spinosus)

Hoya – 海鞘 sea squirt (Halocynthia roretzi)

Inada –  イナダ young Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Kaki – 牡蠣 oyster (Crassostrea gigas)

Kanburi – 寒鰤 Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Kawahagi – 皮剥 thread-sail filefish (Stephanolepis cirrhifer)

Kinki – 喜知次 thornhead (Sebastolobus macrochir)

Kinme – 金目 splendid alfonsino (Beryx splendens)

Kurumaebi – 車海老 Japanese tiger prawn (Penaeus (Melicertus) japonicus)

Madara – 真鱈 Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus)

Makarei – 真鰈 littlemouth flounder (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Managatsuo – 真名鰹 silver pomfret (Pampus punctatissimus)

Madara shirako – 白子 milt from Pacific cod

Mebaru – 目張 rockfish (Sebastes inermis)

Meji maguro – young maguro

Mizudako – 水蛸 North Pacific giant octopus (Octopus dofleini)

Mutsu – むつ gnomefish (Scombrops boops)

Namako – 生子 sea cucumber (Stichopus japonica)

Nametagarei – 婆鰈 slime flounder (MIicrostomus achne)

Saba – 鯖  Pacific mackerel (Scomber japonicus)

Sakuraebi – 桜蝦  sakura shrimp (Sergia lucens)

Sawara – 鰆  Japanese Spanish mackerel (Scomberomorus niphonius)

Sazae – 栄螺 horned turban shell (Turbo cornutus)

Shijimi – 大和蜆 corbicula clams (Corbicula japonica)

Shirako – milt (from cod or fugu are most popular)

Sukesoutara – 介党鱈   Alaska pollack (Theragra chalcogramma)

Suzuki – 鱸  Japanese sea perch (Lateolabrax japonicus)

Uni –  sea urchin

Wakasagi – 若細魚  Japanese smelt (Hypomesus nipponensis)

Warasa – 鰤 Japanese amberjack (Seriola quinqueradiata)

Zuwaigani – 頭矮蟹 snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio)

October Seasonal Japanese Seafood

Kinki

Kinki

As the waters become cooler the fish become rich with fat. We love sanma (Pacific saury) this time of year, both as sashimi, or simply salted and grilled. If there is a nice cup of nihonshu on the table, eating the guts of the sanma is also a treat. For miso soup a handful of shijimi (corbicula clams) into the pot brings lots of umami and flavor. A bowl asari (Japanese little neck clam) steamed in nihonshu is a perfect appetizer to dinner. While I always thought of hirame (halibut) and karei (flounder) as white fish and hence non-fatty that is not at all the case. These flatfish can take on a lot of fat – which you can actually see in the flesh. These are great as sashimi, or after a day or two we love to simmer until tender in nihonshu. Kinki (thornhead) is a fish that Shinji loves. It is often served as a nimono, simmered in a delicate soy broth.

Ainame 鮎並 fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)

Aka garei 赤鰈flathead flounder (Hippoglossoides dubius)

Amaebi 甘海老 sweet shrimp(Pandalus borealis)

Asaba garei 浅羽鰈 dusky sole (Lepidopsetta bilineata)

Asari 浅蜊 Japanese little neck clam (Ruditapes philippinarum)

Awabi abalone (Haliotis sorenseni)

Babagarei 婆鰈 slime flounder (Microstomus achne)

Baka gai 馬鹿貝 surf clam (Mactra chinensis)

Benizuwai gani 紅頭矮蟹 red snow crab (Chionoecetes japonicus)

Botan ebi ボタンエビ Botan shrimp  (Pandalus nipponesis)

Hakkaku or tokubire 八角 sailfin poacher (Podothecus sachi)

Hata hata 鰰  sailfin sandfish (Arctoscopus japonicus)

Hime ezobora 姫蝦夷法螺  sea snail (Neptunea arthritica)

Hirame 鮃 olive halibut (Paralichthys olivaceus)

Hokkai ebi or hokkai shima ebi 北海海老 Hokkai shrimp (Pandalus latirostris)

Hokke 𩸽 arabesque greenling (Pleurogrammus azonus)

Hokki gai (uba gai) 姥貝 hen clam (Pseudocardium sachalinense)

Hokkoku aka ebi or amaebi 北国赤蝦  Alaskan pink shrimp (Pandalus borealis)

Hon maguro (or kuromaguro) 黒鮪 bluefin tuna (Thunus thynnus)

Hotate gai 帆立貝 Japanese scallop (Mizuhopecten yessoensis)

Kaki  牡蠣 oyster (Crassostrea gigas)

Numagarei or wakagarei 沼鰈 starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus)

Kegani 毛蟹 horsehair crab (Erimacrus isenbeckii)

Kemushi kajika 毛虫鰍 sea raven or toubetsu kajika (Hemitripterus villosus)

Kinki or Kichiji 黄血魚 thornhead (Sebastolobus macrochir)

Kitsune mebaru 狐目張 or mazoi fox jacopever (Sebastes vulpes)

Kuro gashira garei 黒頭鰈 cresthead flounder (Pleuronectes schrenki)

Kurosoi 黒曹以 jacopever (Sebastes zonatusschlegeli)

Madara or tara 真鱈 Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus)

Magarei 真鰈 littlemouth flounder (Pleuronectes herzensteini)

Mako garei 真子鰈 marbled flounder (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Masu 鱒 trout (there are many types of trout – see nijimasu, sakuramasu)

Matsukawa garei or tantaka or takanoha 松皮鰈 barfin flounder (Verasper moseri)

Mizudako 水蛸 North Pacific giant octopus (Octopus dofleini)

Muroaji 室鰺 Brown-striped mackerel scad (Decapterus muroadsi)

Niji masu 虹鱒 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Nishin 鰊 Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii)

Sake 鮭 salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)

Sakura masu or yamame 桜鱒 cherry salmon (Oncorhynchus masou maso)

Sanma 秋刀魚 Pacific saury (Cololabis saira)

Shako 蝦蛄 mantis shrimp (Oratosquilla oratoria)

Shiira 粃 mahi mahi (Coryphaena hippurus)

Shijimi 大和蜆 corbicula clam (Corbicula japonica)

Shirauo 白魚 icefish (Salangichthys microdon)

Shishamo 柳葉魚 capelin (Spirinchus lanceolatus)

Souhachi 宗八鰈 pointhead flounder (Cleishenes pinetorum)

Suketou dara 鯳 Alaska pollack (Theragra chalcogramma)

Suna garei 砂鰈 sand flounder (Limanda punctatissima)

Surumeika 鯣烏賊 Japanese flying squid (Todarodes pacificus)

Tachiuo 太刀魚 cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)

Tarabagani 鱈場蟹 Alaska king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus)

Ugui 鯎 Japanese dace (Tribolodon Hakonensis)

Wakasagi 若細魚 Japanese smelt (Hypomesus nipponensis)

Yanagi no mai 柳の舞 yellow rockfish (Sebastes steindachneri)

September Seasonal Japanese Seafood 9月旬の魚

September Seasonal Japanese Seafood

Sanma

Sanma

Perhaps no fish signals the arrival of autumn to me than sanma (Pacific saury), a silver skinned, long and skinny fish that for me is best when simply salted and grilled. This at night with a glass of nihonshu or shochu is heaven for me. What many Japanese especially appreciate is the bitter innards of the grilled sanma, a nice match for a hearty sake.

The shijimi (corbicula clams) are perfect in a bowl of miso soup and asari (Japanese littleneck clams) are great simply steamed in some sake or if you are craving a Western preparation, then steamed with white wine and garlic and served over pasta.

Many flounders are in season now. We like these meuniere style, sauteed in butter and then finished with a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Finally, a lot of these are great as sashimi. Shinji likes the fishy seafood like nishin (Pacific herring), sanma (Pacific saury), and iwashi (Japanse anchovy).

To make it easier for readers to understand what each seafood is I have linked to a photo of the seafood. Just click on the Japanese name.

Ainame 鮎並 fat greenling (Hexagrammos otakii)

Aka garei 赤鰈 flathead flounder (Hippoglossoides dubius)

Akijake 秋鮭

Amaebi 甘海老 sweet shrimp (Pandalus borealis)

Asaba garei 浅羽鰈 dusky sole (Lepidopsetta bilineata)

Asahigani spanner crab (Ranina ranina)

Asari 浅蜊 Japanese little neck clam (Ruditapes philippinarum)

Awabi 鮑abalone (Haliotis sorenseni)

Ayu 鮎 sweetfish (Plecoglossus altivelis altivelis)

Baka gai 馬鹿貝 surf clam (Mactra chinensis)

Benizuwai gani 紅頭矮蟹 red snow crab (Chionoecetes japonicus)

Botan ebi ボタンエビ Botan shrimp  (Pandalus nipponesis)

Dojou 泥鰌 loach (Misgurnus Anguillicaudatus)

Ezo bafun uni 蝦夷馬糞海胆 short-spined sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus intermedius)

Ezobora 蝦夷法螺 whelk (Neptunea polycostata)

Hakkaku 八角 sailfin poacher (Podothecus sachi)

Also called tokubire

Hanasaki gani 花咲蟹  spiny king crab (Paralithodes brevipes)

Hata hata 鰰  sailfin sandfish (Arctoscopus japonicus)

Hime ezobora 姫蝦夷法螺  sea snail (Neptunea arthritica)

Hirame 鮃 olive halibut (Paralichthys olivaceus)

Hokke 𩸽 arabesque greenling (Pleurogrammus azonus)

Hokki gai  北寄貝 surf clam (Pseudocardium sachalinense)

Hokkoku aka ebi 北国赤蝦  Alaskan pink shrimp (Pandalus borealis)

Hon maguro (or kuromaguro) 黒鮪 bluefin tuna (Thunus thynnus)

Hotate gai 帆立貝 Japanese scallop (Mizuhopecten yessoensis)

Ibodai 疣鯛 butterfish (Psenopsis anomala)

Kaki  牡蠣 oyster (Crassostrea gigas)

Katakuchi iwashi 片口鰯 Japanese anchovy (Engraulis japonicus)

Kawa yatsume 川八目 Japanese lamprey (Lampetra japonica)

Kawagarei or Numagarei 沼鰈 starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus)

Kegani 毛蟹 horsehair crab (Erimacrus isenbeckii)

Kinki or Kichiji 黄血魚 thornhead (Sebastolobus macrochir)

Kita murasaki uni 北紫海胆 Northern sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus nudus)

Kouika 甲烏賊 cuttlefish (Sepia (Platysepia) esculenta)

Kounago 小女子 Japanese sand lance (Ammodytes personatus)

Kuro gashira garei 黒頭鰈 cresthead flounder (Pleuronectes schrenki)

Kurokarei 黒鰈 black plaice (Pleuronectes obscurus)

Kuruma ebi 車海老 kuruma prawn (Penaeus (Melicertus) japonicus)

Ma anago 真穴子 conger eel (Conger myriaster)

Magarei 真鰈 littlemouth flounder (Pleuronectes herzensteini)

Mako garei 真子鰈 marbled flounder (Pleuronectes yokohamae)

Managatsuo 真名鰹 silver pomfret (Pampus punctatissimus)

Masu 鱒 trout (there are many types of trout – see nijimasu, sakuramasu)

Mizudako 水蛸 North Pacific giant octopus (Octopus dofleini)

Namako 真海鼠 Japanese sea cucumber (Stichopus japonica)

Niji masu 虹鱒 rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

Nishin 鰊 Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii)

Sake 鮭 salmon (Oncorhynchus keta)

Sakura masu 桜鱒 cherry salmon (Oncorhynchus masou maso)

Sanma 秋刀魚 Pacific saury (Cololabis saira)

Saragai 皿貝 Northern great tellin (Megangulus venulosa)

Shijimi 大和蜆 corbicula clam (Corbicula japonica)

Shirauo 白魚 icefish (Salangichthys microdon)

Souhachi 宗八鰈 pointhead flounder (Cleishenes pinetorum)

Suketou dara 鯳 Alaska pollack (Theragra chalcogramma)

Suna garei 砂鰈 sand flounder (Limanda punctatissima)

Surumeika 鯣烏賊 Japanese flying squid (Todarodes pacificus)

Tachiuo 太刀魚 cutlassfish (Trichiurus lepturus)

Tarabagani 鱈場蟹 Alaska king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus)

Torigai 鳥貝 Japanese cockle (Fulvia mutica)

Unagi 鰻 Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica)

Wakasagi 若細魚 Japanese smelt (Hypomesus nipponensis)

Yanagi no mai 柳の舞 yellow rockfish (Sebastes steindachneri)