Sake-Steamed Clams: Recipe for Japanese Asari no Sakamushi

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  November 1, 2022

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Clams are a delicious ingredient. They’re found in many different cuisines around the world and pair well with a variety of flavors.

But the Japanese have a unique way of cooking them – they boil them in sake, the country’s favorite drinking and cooking alcohol.

Sake-Steamed Clams- Recipe for Japanese Asari no Sakamushi

In Japanese izakayas, clams with butter and sake are known as Asari no Sakamushi. You’ll need butter and fresh clams to recreate the recipe.

Favorite Asian Recipes
Favorite Asian Recipes

Japanese rice wine sake and a few aromatics are used to steam the clams.

Since the ingredients are very basic and bring out the exquisite brininess of the clams, the outcome is excellent.

In Japanese bars, sake-steamed clams are frequently served with a chilled glass of foaming beer or sake.

Make your own sake-steamed clams at home

Depending on how many clams you order and what side dishes you serve them with, they make a tasty appetizer or even a main entrée.

Here’s the recipe to follow for the tastiest clams!

Recipe for Sake-Steamed Clams Japanese Asari no Sakamushi

Sake-Steamed Clams (Asari no Sakamushi)

Joost Nusselder
The sake infuses the clams with a savory umami flavor. They can be served with beer or wine, or you can pair them with a side of rice for a simple, satisfying meal.
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Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 10 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Japanese
Servings 4 people

Equipment

  • 1 large deep skillet
  • 1 medium bowl

Ingredients
  

  • 2 pounds of Manila clams or cockles scrubbed
  • 1 cup sake
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 piece ginger 1 inch
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 scallions white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp of Togarashi spice blend

Instructions
 

  • Wash and clean the clams thoroughly with fresh cold water before you clean them again in salt water.
  • Slice the scallions into small pieces and julienne the ginger. Set aside.
  • Use a medium bowl and fill it with cold water, then add 1 tbsp of salt. Let the clams stand in this salted water for 1 hour. Afterward, drain them and rinse well.
  • Take a large, deep skillet and combine the measured sake and water and bring them to a boil.
  • Add the clams and cover the skillet tightly.
  • Start cooking them until most of the clams have opened. This takes about 4 minutes; make sure to shake the pan every now and then.
  • Remove any clams that did not open during the cooking process (these are spoiled).
  • Add the scallions and ginger and cook for one more minute.
  • Serve the clams and broth into medium-sized bowls and top them with butter, then garnish with the togarashi spice. Serve immediately for the best taste!

Notes

Note: Togarashi is a Japanese blend of cayenne, sesame seeds, and seaweed. It is available in most Asian markets or online.
Keyword seafood
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

For the best flavor, use a high-quality cooking sake like the Kikkoman Ryorishi Cooking Sake, or you can even use a fruity drinking sake like Japanese Kikusui Junmai Ginjo.

Learn about cooking and drinking sake here and what the best ones to buy

How to clean the clams

When you are ready to cook the clams, remove any dirt or debris from the shells and then wash them in a bowl of cold salted water. This will help keep them from going bad.

The clams should soak in salty water for about 1 hour to remove any sand or debris. You can even clean the shell by scrubbing it gently with a soft brush.

Once they are cleaned, rinse them well and pat them dry before cooking.

Cooking tips

  • Add more sake or water if the broth is too thick.
  • Don’t overcook the clams. Once the shells open up, the clams are done cooking. If you let them cook for too long, they become very chewy and gummy.
  • If you want to make a more substantial meal, serve this dish with a side of firm white rice, crusty bread, or even some noodles.
  • If you’re using larger clams and want to reduce the cooking time, try precooking or par cooking them for a few minutes before adding them to the skillet.
  • You can use either cooking sake or drinking sake for this recipe since it gives the clams a wonderful, savory flavor.

Substitutes and variations

You can use littleneck clams, baby mussels, or even crab legs in place of the clams for this recipe.

To add more depth of flavor to the broth, try adding a bit of soy sauce or fish sauce.

You can also experiment with different fresh herbs and aromatics, such as cilantro, basil, or even lemon zest.

If you’re not a fan of butter, you can use a little bit of olive oil instead.

When it comes to the sake, there are no exact substitutes. To get the authentic izakaya flavors, you’ll have to steam and boil the clams in sake.

How to serve and eat

Usually, sake-steamed clams are served with alcohol at local Japanese pubs called izakayas. The clams are served alongside chilled beer, sake, or wine.

To eat the clams, simply spoon some of the broth and a few clams into a bowl or plate. You can add more broth and garnishes, such as scallions, ginger, and togarashi spice.

The clams can be served with some greens or vegetables on the side, such as steamed bok choy (like this fast 10 minute Bok Choy in Oyster Sauce Stir Fry Recipe here) or sautéed kale.

They’re also great with a simple sauce, such as a sweet and spicy miso sauce or a zesty tartar sauce.

How to store leftovers

Clams should not be kept for more than 1-2 days, so be sure to store the leftovers in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

To prevent them from going bad, be sure to use any leftover broth within a day or two as well.

When storing the clams, you need to remove them from their shell, or else they’ll go bad.

To keep them fresh, try transferring the clams to an airtight container filled with a little bit of fresh water.

You can also add some lemon juice or vinegar to help keep them from spoiling.

Similar dishes

If you want to try a similar seafood dish, try making mussels in sake or white wine, or clam chowder.

These dishes are also typically cooked quickly in order to preserve the freshness and flavor of the seafood.

You can cook most fish or seafood in sake because it gives them a rich, buttery flavor.

This can be added to soups or stews, used as a marinade or sauce, or even mixed into dips or dressings.

Alternatively, you can also try making other types of shellfish dishes, such as lobster bisque or crab cakes.

The key is to use fresh, high-quality ingredients and to cook them quickly with minimal effort for the best results.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a delicious, savory seafood dish that is quick and easy to make, then sake-steamed clams are a quick meal option.

Using a high-quality cooking sake is guaranteed to give your clams an amazing flavor, while the buttery broth adds richness and depth.

Overall, sake-steamed clams are a delicious and simple seafood dish that is sure to impress your friends or family.

Check out this Seafood Teppanyaki Recipe from the chef | delicious meal in 6 steps

Check out our new cookbook

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.