Large varieties of fish and shellfish play a heavy role in Japanese cuisine. Many dishes feature clams as a main ingredient. The versatile bivalve can be consumed in a variety of ways— steamed, chopped, fried, baked and boiled. The prominent flavor of clams delivers that distinctive umami component to many dishes. They also add a great deal of health benefits to the plate!
If you enjoy Japanese cuisine and have started to venture into preparing your own Japanese meals in the kitchen, consider cooking with clams to make the dish extra healthy and nutritious.
Health Benefits of Clams
Clams are high in iron
If you want to get more iron in your diet but aren’t keen on digesting too much red meat, clams are the way to go. Just three ounces (about nine or ten small ones) packs 24 milligrams of iron. That’s more than a T-bone steak contains. It’s also more than the RDA of eight milligrams a day for men and 18 milligrams a day for premenopausal women.
Clams contain many other minerals
In addition to iron, clams also contain many other important nutrients and minerals. These include potassium, zinc, phosphorus, selenium, and manganese.
High in protein, low in fat
Clams are especially lean, containing only two grams of fat per three ounces, but a whopping 20 grams of protein. That makes them higher in protein than other types of shellfish, and equal with chicken in terms of protein and fat. However, the similarity to chicken stops there—clams contain much more vitamins and minerals than chicken does!
Clams contain healthy fats
Consuming about 3-4 ounces of clams helps to deliver about 140 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, more than half the amount recommended per day for optimal heart health. It also makes them a great choice for low-fat diets.
Clams are lower in contaminants than other fish and shellfish
There is a very high concern about the levels of contaminants found in seafood. However, the Environmental Defense Fund’s Seafood Selector has reported that clams exhibit very low levels of contaminants, making them a healthier choice than many other types of seafood.
Cooking with Clams in Japanese Cuisine
The most common types of clams used in Japan are the Asari, Shijimi, and the Hamaguri. Of course, your local fishmonger isn’t likely to have these readily available, and even Asian supermarkets in the United States might only have them frozen. However, using popular and easily found American varieties such as littleneck, softshell, or cherrystone will be just fine.
Japanese style linguine is an easy-to-make yet inventive fusion dish based on the classic Italian recipe. Made with littleneck clams steamed in sake, shiitake mushrooms, nori, and other delectable ingredients, it’s comfort food taken to a whole new level.
Japanese mixed rice with clams also delivers umami in a bowl. In fact, one bowl might not be enough of this highly flavorful dish! Made with dashi broth and assorted mushrooms, it’s easy to make and packs a lot of nutrition. Check out our video here!
How can you discuss clam recipes without mentioning clam chowder? Japanese clam chowder does exist, and it’s healthier and more satisfying than traditional New England clam chowder.
When you’re ready to fully venture into Japanese clam recipe territory, you can try your hand at Sakamushi, a simple recipe that uses simple ingredients to subtly enhance the clams. After a quick online search, you’ll find dozens of delicious Japanese recipes to keep you busy for quite some time!