Feb 22
2010

Hamaguri Ushio-jiru (Clear Clam Soup) for Hinamatsuri

in Hinamatsuri (Girl's Day), Japanese, Recipes By Region, Recipes by Type, Seafood, Soup & Stew

March 3rd (next week!), is Hinamatsuri in Japan, which literally translates to mean “Doll Festival,” but is often to referred to as Girl’s Day.  It’s the day when families pray for and celebrate the happiness and prosperity of their girls.  Special dolls are displayed in the best room of the house and special foods are eaten.  Here are our “Hina-ningyo” (special dolls for Hinamatsuri which are replicas of an ancient emperor and empress and their royal court).

Hinamatsuri no ningyo

I have adopted the holiday and turned it into a day to do something fun with my girls.  I thought it might be fun to spend this week “celebrating” Hinamatsuri with you.

One of the dishes traditionally eaten for Hinamatsuri is Hamaguri Ushio-jiru (Clear Clam Soup)—a soup made with a clear broth and clams.  I am a big fan of this particular soup.  It is very easy to make and only takes a few minutes.  The finished product is light and flavorful.  Squirrel is a huge fan of the clams.

Squirrel lovin' some clams

The only real prep work that needs to be done is the soaking of the clams for several hours in salted water to help them expel sand and dirt (gritty clams are NOT yummy).

Clams for clear clam soup

One key to delicious broth is to skim off the skum that collects on the surface of the water as soon all of the clams have opened (trust me…skum is also NOT yummy).

Skim off the skum

Choose very fresh clams with perfect shells.  If any of your clam shells are open, discard them pronto, they are NOT good!  The broth gets its flavor from the clams and a small piece of kombu, but isn’t “fishy” at all (unless you’re using less than fresh clams).  A small bit of lemon zest adds a wonderful citrus zing.  I add a sprig of cilantro or parsley to each bowl (mitsuba would be more traditional, but it is hard to find around here), to add a bit more flavor and color.

Hamaguri Ushio-jiru

Print This Recipe

Hamaguri Ushio-jiru (Clear Clam Soup)

Makes 4 servings

8 small (or 4 large) clams
4-inch square of kombu
3 1/4 cups cold water
3/4 teapoons salt
mitsuba, parsley, or cilantro to garnish
lemon zest, finely grated to garnish

1. To prepare the clams: Put the clams in a large bowl and cover them with heavily salted water.  Let them sit in a cool, dark place, for 2 to 5 hours.  this helps them expel any sand or dirt that might be trapped in them.  When the clams have finished soaking, gently scrub the shells clean under cold running water.

2. To make the soup: Put the clams, kombu, and cold water in medium-sized pot.  Place the pot over medium-high heat.  Just before the water begins to boil, remove the kelp.  Boil the water until all the clams have opened, then season the broth with the salt and skim the scum off the surface of the water.  Remove the clams, then pour the broth through a fine mesh strainer (or 2-layers of cheese cloth) into another pot/container.

3. To serve: Arrange 2 clams, a sprig of mitsuba/parsley/cilantro, and a pinch of lemon zest in each bowl.  Ladle hot broth into each bowl and serve.

** If you’d like to read a bit more about Hinamatsuri, you can read this post about one of our celebrations of it while we were living in Japan.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Megan February 22, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Happy Hina Matsuri (for the 3rd), Sqirrel and Bug!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) February 22, 2010 at 4:58 pm

@Megan, Arigato!! XOXO Squirrel & Bug

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Diana@Spain in Iowa February 22, 2010 at 4:41 pm

I love this Rachel, especially seeing squirrel eating a clam! That’s wonderful!!! What a great holiday, can’t wait to learn more!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) February 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm

@Diana@Spain in Iowa, Thanks Diana! She loved getting to eat something out of a “pretty shell.”

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Jamie @ My Baking Addiction February 22, 2010 at 4:51 pm

I have never cooked with clams…this seems like the perfect place to start!

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Fuji Mama (Rachael) February 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm

@Jamie @ My Baking Addiction, It’s definitely an easy way to start!

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sugar plum February 22, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Fantastic soup -we are seafood lovers and love clams too ……
And u know what,my google feed has stopped for the last 3 posts and tried everything but haven got a lead-none of my posts update on blog list (whew!!!)any tips???

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Carolyn Jung February 23, 2010 at 9:13 am

I love clams in broth like this. There’s a Chinese Muslim restaurant near my house that makes this lovely clam-ginger soup. It looks like dish-water, but has so much unbelievable flavor. Great for when you are ailing with a cold, too. ;)

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Jessica @ Dairy Free Betty February 23, 2010 at 9:19 am

so simple and pretty!! :)

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diva February 23, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Oh yes you’ve reminded me about Girls’ Day! :) And such a lovely dish to accompany the festival. I really like clam soup. Thanks for the recipe x

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Dawn (KitchenTravels) February 23, 2010 at 2:31 pm

This looks and sounds really delicious. I love asari (miso soup w/ clams), so I’ll definitely have to give this a try soon. Great photos – your daughter is adorable!

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Megan Gordon February 23, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Yay, what fun! Gosh, as you know, most kids aren’t fans of clams. You’ve got a keeper with Squirrel :)

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Rasa Malaysia February 23, 2010 at 4:24 pm

I love clams too, and I love clams soup. I like it with some shredded younger ginger for some heat and a little bit sake. I also love the izakaya version where they put a little butter in the broth and a little sake and mirin. I am a clam predators, I can eat tons of them. Squirrel and I are alike!!! :)

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Gaelle@whatareyoufeedingyourkidsthesedays.com February 23, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I have never had clam soup before (had some mussels soup, though). Since it seems so simple, I’ll try it out. Thanks again for the great recipe and the insight into Japanese culture.
PS: When did your daughter start mastering chopsticks? I am impressed!

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Bonnie February 23, 2010 at 6:26 pm

This looks awesome and easy too! I always want to get the clams whenever I go to Mitsuwa, our local Japanese market, but never know what to do with them. Will definitely have to try this out!

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Miki February 24, 2010 at 3:10 am

wow I love your blog and obviously I love Japan! you Hina-ningyo are wonderful!

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Fuji Papa February 24, 2010 at 7:40 am

The soup looks great. I’ve always had clams in a thick soup, never in a broth. We’re going to have to try some of the stuff.

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elicia February 28, 2010 at 5:54 pm

I almost forgot about Hinamatsuri! It’s been years since my family celebrated the holiday and your posting has pushed me to remind my dad that girl’s day is coming. At my age, can i still celebrate? :)

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Rebeca March 11, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Hey! Love your blog!! I must admit i read it mostly for the Japanese food/culture which i LOVE!

So as a bilingual mom with bilingual kids I was just curious: I see squirrel eating with chopsticks, and eating lots of Japanese food…are you and your husband planning on teaching your daughters to speak Japanese? Do you speak it?….if i’m not mistaken, your eldest has Japanese citizenship, right? :)

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Marcelino Croxford September 23, 2010 at 9:16 am

“Anyway, I guess I’m a trifle off subject here?.. Exactly..
. It appears like that! Ha, Ha, Ha…”

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