Clam Miso Soup in Green Tea Broth
CLAMS IN SWEET WHITE MISO AND GREEN TEA BROTH
Clam Miso Soup
This easy-to-make soup is so delicious you will add it to your everyday repertoire. Create your own variations: instead of clams, substitute narrow strips of sweet white fish, or for an elegant flourish, butterfly two dozen shrimp and add them, tails attached, to the miso broth. Add a splash of color with finely shredded spinach or seaweed. Boost the aromatics with crisp, clean slices of fresh lemongrass. For a burst of flavor, finish the dish with a dash of the sassy Japanese-Style Red Pepper Spice Mix.
- 24 small to medium-sized Littleneck or Countneck clams
JAPANESE-STYLE RED PEPPER SPICE MIX
- black peppercorns-1 tablespoon
- coarse sea salt-1 teaspoon
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon brown or white sesame seeds
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked Spanish paprika (preferably agridulce, or bittersweet)
- 1 quart plus 1 quart water
- 4 tablespoons green tea leaves or 8 green tea teabags
- 8 tablespoons sweet white Japanese miso
- 1 (2-inch) knob gingerroot, peeled and finely grated
Wash the clams in a pan of cold, clean water. Scrub the shells and discard any that are cracked or gaping open. Change the water several times and leave the clams to soak for 10 minutes, to disgorge any remaining sand. Rinse the clams well and set aside to drain.
To make the Japanese-Style Red Pepper Spice Mix: Using a mortar and pestle, crush the black peppercorns until you have small, cracked pieces that are not too big but not yet powder. Add the sea salt and crush just a little. Add both types of sesame seeds and crush until they begin to lose their shape. Mix in the cayenne and the smoked paprika and combine well. Set aside.
To make the broth: In a kettle bring 1 quart of the water to a boil over high heat, then remove from the heat and let cool for 3 minutes. Place the loose tea leaves or teabags in a 1½-quart saucepan. Pour the water over the tea leaves, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and brew for 2 minutes. If you are using loose tea leaves, strain the brewed tea into a saucepan. If you are using teabags, lift them out and press them gently against the side of the saucepan to drain before adding the brewed tea to the pan.
With the remaining 1 quart water, brew the same tea leaves a second time, using the method just described. Add this second infusion to the brewed tea in the pan. Add the miso to the brewed tea and mix well. The miso will separate. Add the gingerroot to the tea and miso mixture. Mix well and set aside.
Place the clams in a 4- or 6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven and add enough water to cover. Simmer, uncovered, over medium heat, then cover the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, until all the clams have opened.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the clams from the pan. Drain the clams, then divide them among soup plates, being careful to not dislodge them from their shells. Stir the tea broth and ladle a generous amount over the clams. Scatter a sprinkling of red pepper spice over each dish and serve hot.