Asari Miso Soup

Asari Miso Soup

Fishing aside, one of my favorite reasons for visiting japan as a kid was to dig for clams at low tide. For a 6 year old, there are few things more exciting than sinking your hands into a cool slurry of sand and coming up with a handful of clams that would later make it into a bowl of miso soup for breakfast.

Asari (Manila Clams)

Those clams are known as Asari in Japan, but thanks to the popularity of Japanese oysters, they were introduced to the West Coast of the US and are commonly known as Manila clams in grocery stores. They have a wonderful briny flavor different from other varieties of clams which makes for a soup that’s a refreshing change from your usual bonito and kombu based miso soup.

It’s also easier to make than most miso soups because there’s no need to make dashi first. You start with water, and the hard-working mollusks turn it into a delicate broth. Including mushrooms adds more flavor and texture, but you can really add just about anything you want (or leave them out all-together).

Asari Miso Soup

serves 2

200 g manila clams
2 cups water
1/2 pack Japanese mushrooms (such as shimeji, enoki or nameko)
1 1/2 tbs miso (to taste)
1 scallion chopped

Add the clams and 1 teaspoon of salt to a bowl and cover with water. This will make the clams open and release any sand they contain.

Add the mushrooms to the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the clams and cover with a lid and boil until the clams open (about 1-2 minutes). Turn the heat down and add the miso, dissolving the paste in a ladle filled with a little soup first to avoid clumps. Because different types of miso vary in salinity, taste the soup and adjust the miso to taste.

Finish by adding the scallions and serve immediately.

  • leaf (the indolent cook)

    Clam-flavoured broth is delicious! That first photo is really calling out to me…

    • Lagolden

      Do you scrub the outside of the clams first?  I have never cooked them so wonder?

      • Marc Matsumoto

        Nope, but you do want to soak them in salt water for a bit to get them to release any sand they may contain.

  • Darren Tran

    Sounds great… need to try this!

  • cjbollinger

    This looks simple, beautiful and very tasty.  I’ll have to opt for whatever clams are available at our little ‘eh’ market, but definitely worth a go.

  • OKay

    do the shells impart much flavor? are they nutritious?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Nope, the shells, don’t impart any flavor or nutrients as far as I’m aware of. You could certainly remove the meat and serve just the meat in the soup if you like, but it’s traditionally served with the shells.

  • sophist_roland

    This was always my favorite miso soup to get served when I was living in Tokyo. Wish the midwest got some of those clams. I can’t even get enoki mushrooms without paying an arm and a leg for them. Do you know of any easy to get substitutes for the manila/asari clams?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      There’s a bunch of seafood suppliers online that aren’t crazy expensive, try looking around online. has Manila clams for $8.88 per pound.

  • essay help

    very cool pst! thanks alot for sharing!

  • Alice

    Should the water be cold, warm or hot when you put the clams in salted water to get rid of the sand?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      The water to soak should be cold.

  • Matka Shop

    Looks Amazing

  • Raphael Clancy

    My local market usually has Manila clams and Enoki mushrooms. I decided to try this as a nice warm up after a day hiking in the mountains with some friends. But, when I hit the market, they had neither Asari nor Enoki. So, I made it with little neck clams and cremini mushrooms. I figured that the little necks would have a milder flavor, so I bulked up the stock with a little dried bonito and a piece of kombu, and it turned out great! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe.

  • pansy

    the pic on asari miso soup looks good. is there tomato in it as I saw something reddish?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Nope, no tomatoes though that might make for a novel miso soup:-) Just Asari clams and Japanese mushrooms (nameko).

  • camila

    Hi Marc! what variety of miso paste do you use for miso soup? i bought hatcho and it didn’t taste right, then I saw in the comments of another recipe that its not suitable for soup. which one of the other types (rice, barley, brown rice) is the best for a regular miso soup? also, is it possible to buy stock that is made with kmobu, bonito and whatever other fish stock ready? also, is most bonito out there full of msg or not?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Hi Camila, hatcho miso is used for miso soup in certain parts of Japan, but it can have a rather strong flavor. What miso you use depends mostly on the region of Japan you’re in. Personally I like yellow miso made with soybeans and rice (as opposed to soybeans and wheat) as the kind made with rice tends to be sweeter.

  • paganmist

    Marc, I want to say thank you and express my appreciation for this beautiful site and these amazing recipes. As weird as it sounds, I feel like this site is actually a gift to the world. It’s so obvious that everything here is presented with love and thought.

    I’m transitioning to a healthier way of eating, and finding healthy recipes that don’t make me want to run and grab a burger isn’t easy. Your site is helping with that, though.

    Thank you for sharing your artistic and culinary efforts with us, as well as your clear love of good food.

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Thanks Paganmist! It’s my goal to make the preparation of tasty wholesome food accessible and fun for people of all skill levels, so I’m glad to hear you’ve found it helpful!

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  • Elleanor

    Decided to give it a go, and it had a lovely homey taste. I’m used to the more aggressive flavors of Cambodian food, so I added kombu, bonito, and soy sauce. I just found your site, and I’m really excited to try all the recipes.

  • Jennifer McKay

    can we substitute some of the water with sake?

    • Marc Matsumoto

      Yep, absolutely:-)—
      Sent from Mailbox for iPhone

      • Jennifer McKay


  • Ariel Isble

    I loved this in Japan. So good.

  • zeusdsk

    All of the above are authentic and and delicious. I miss my authentic miso soup with mempachi.


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