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Hamaguri Ushio-jiru (Clear Clam Soup) for Hinamatsuri

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.