When you plan meals and prepare food for others for a living, it can be tiring to cook for yourself. After spending the day thinking about what to make for others, the last thing I want to do is cook for myself. So you can imagine my relief when my husband suggested that he make Japanese clam curry for dinner. After watching an episode of "Terrace House" in which one of the members made his famous curry for his roommates, my husband was craving that dish for days. So, here we were preparing it ourselves and can I say, it was a huge success! Homemade curry beats the packaged curry every single time.
Japanese Clam Curry
- 4 cups water
- 1 inch knob ginger peeled
- 2 scallions white ends only
- 2 garlic cloves smashed
- 2 lb clams scrubbed clean
- 2 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- ½ tablespoon garlic minced
- ½ tablespoon ginger minced
- 2 tablespoon flour
- 2 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 2 medium carrots peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups reserved clam stock
- ½ cup grated Fuji apple peeled
- 1 ½ tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- salt and pepper
- Combine 4 cups of water with ginger, scallions, and smashed garlic in a medium stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the clams, and reduce heat to medium. Remove the clams with a slotted spoon when the shells begin to open. Once all the clams are removed, simmer the remaining stock for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, strain, discarding the aromatics. Set aside the stock.
- Heat 2 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, garlic and ginger, cooking until the onions are translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the flour and curry powder, stirring to make a paste. Add the tomato paste, potatoes, carrots, bay leaf, grated apple, and 3 cups clam stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.
- While the curry is cooking, remove the clam meat from the shells, discarding the shells. You can also keep some of the clams in the shell for presentation.
- Season curry with soy sauce, honey, salt, and pepper. Add back the clams, stirring to combine. Serve with steamed rice.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Japanese curry is typically made with chicken or beef but fresh clams become the star in this recipe. The first step is to discard any clams that may have died. To check, simply lightly tap any clams that are open. If it's alive, it should close its shell. If the shell stays open, discard the clam. Next, you want to clean the clams. Soak them in fresh water for 20 minutes. The freshwater will help the clams spit out any sand or dirt. Use a firm brush and clean off any barnacles or dirt that may remain.
Now let's get cooking! We're going to incorporate the clams into the curry in every way possible starting by making a clam stock. Heat 4 cups of water with ginger, scallions, and garlic to a boil. Add the clams and cook until the shells begin to open. Remove the clams with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid. Continue simmering the liquid for 10 more minutes. Strain, discarding the aromatics and there you have your clam stock.
Next, it's time to make the actual Japanese clam curry. Heat the butter and oil in a pot and saute the onion, garlic, and ginger. Add the flour and curry powder, stirring to make a thick paste. This will help thicken the curry as it cooks while adding flavor. For the curry powder, I prefer to use S&B curry powder, which has some spice.
Add the remaining ingredients including the reserved clam stock. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer until the vegetables become tender. You want to wait to add the clams until the very last minute to avoid overcooking them. Remember, we've already cooked them to make the stock so it's just a matter of stirring it in at the very end.
Once the vegetables are fork-tender, finish seasoning the curry with soy sauce, honey, salt, and pepper. You want the curry to be a little spicy and a little sweet. Finish by adding back the clams and serve with steamed rice. You can remove the clam meat from the shells or add the entire clam, the choice is up to you.
This Japanese clam curry was the best comfort food on a chilly night. The combination of earthy, sweet, and spicy warms you up while the fresh clams take it over the top. Will I ever buy packaged curry again? Possibly. Is homemade better? Definitely.
For more clam inspiration check out these Thai coconut lemongrass clams!