Japanese Oyster Chowder with Miso

Panography of oyster chowder almost

I couldn’t wait to experiment with panographies,
though a bowl of soup may not be the best subject for this fun photomanipulation…

This is a clam an oyster chowder with Japanese ingredients! Sweet white miso and soy milk combine to make this interesting soup. The store was fresh out of clams, except for the small flat tins of smoked clams. So I’ve substituted shucked oysters for the clams.
Canned Smoked Oysters

One of my most memorable “meals” was a couple of cans of smoked clams (or oysters, or mussels?), a few cello-wrapped saltines, and warm soda, shared with my daughter, my husband, and his sister on a beach in the wilderness of Washington state in 1990. We had somehow missed lunch, and facing hours of driving to a town, we stopped to search our bags for edible items.  We ate sitting on log, overlooking a wild beach; it was a most delicious meal! To this day, I pack a tin of smoked or kippered fish whenever we go to a beach. Once, my husband made me a gift of some kippers. We were at a hotel in Florida and I was going home before he was. It made sense at the time, but the airport security people couldn’t figure out what the thin, oblong metal object in my carry-on could be…

Oyster Chowder with Miso

Hiroko’s Clam and Miso Chowder

Kuramu Chauda Hiroko-fu
serves 4
page 226

  • 14 to 16 ounces asari clams, or littleneck clams(or use 6 ounces clams canned in brine)
    I used 8 ounces of shucked oysters
  • One 4-inch square kombu
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 strip of bacon, diced (1 ounce)
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup diced celery
    (I don’t like the texture of cooked celery, so I used more onions and potatoes, plus some ground celery seeds)
  • 1 cup peeled and diced potato
  • Bay Leaf
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme (1/4 tsp dried)
  • 3 Tablespoons Saikyo miso (sweet white miso)
    divided 2 TBS and 1TBS
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 cup unflavored soy milk
  • Minced chives for garnish

Japanese Oyster Chowder with Miso

Put the clams into a colander, and the colander into a large bowl of salted cold water (1 TBS. to 1 quart). Let the clams stand in a cool place for 2 to 3 hours to expel sand. Rub and rinse in cold running water.
In a large pot, combine the clams, kombu, and water. Bring it almost to a boil over medium heat. Remove the kombu, and discard. Bring the pot to a full boil, and skim the foam. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and cook the clams until they open, about 3 to 4 minutes.

With my shucked oysters, I brought the water and kombu almost to a boil over medium heat. I left the kombu in the water while I prepared the rest of the soup. Discarded the kombu before adding the liquid to the soup.

Discard any unopened clams. Strain the broth through a sieve lined with a tightly woven cotton cloth. Reserve the clams and broth in separate bowls, covered.
In a medium pot, heat the olive oil. Add the bacon and cook over low heat until crisp.

Pour off excess oil, leaving about 1 Tablespoon in the pot. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the flour and toss it with the onions and bacon. Add the reserved broth, the diced vegetables, and the bay leaf and thyme. Increase the heat to medium and bring the contents to a boil. Skim the foam.
Reduce the heat to low, add 2 TBS of miso, and stir to dissolve. Cover the pot and cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft.
Add the reserved clams, 1 TBS miso, and salt to taste. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Lower the heat slightly, and add the soy milk. Heat. Don’t boil the soy milk: it will curdle!
Discard the bay leaf. Serve immediately.

Japanese Oyster Chowder with Miso

Japanese Oyster Chowder with Tori no Tsukune

Other Japanese Soups from Tess

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Salmon Steamed with Sweet Rice Ginger Soy Milk Panna Cotta

11 thoughts on “Japanese Oyster Chowder with Miso

  1. Now, this sounds interesting. My whole family loves clams, but they are the one shellfish I don’t care for. Oysters, however, make me swoon. What a good idea!

    I’m with you on the cooked celely, BTW, although I use a small amount in traditional stuffing.

    This is such a neat riff on oyster stew — thanks, Tess.

  2. Marcia,
    Do try it and let me know how you like it! It really is delicious.
    Be sure to use the sweet white miso if at all possible, or at least white miso. It adds a very pleasant light sweetness; darker miso (s?) would be overwhelming.

  3. Tess, we are in the boonies of South Jersey, and it’s a bit of a trek to Whole Foods, but I can get sweet white miso there. I will add it to my list, since I make a trip once a month or so. The fresh oysters may be a problem, but I will try and I love them, anyway.
    I’ll let you know when I get around to it — please don’t hold your breath, but it sounds delicous.

  4. Marcia,
    I live in the mitten state—Michigan: surrounded by The Great Lakes! The oysters I bought were shucked and sold in a plastic container in the refrigerated section of a very ordinary grocery store here. Granted they were from some Asian country (from the news such farmed seafood might be contaminated??) but very tasty. I’m thinking that you could use scallops or crab, or even cod for the seafood part of this dish. It was the miso and soy milk that made it so good. Or what about lobster?
    The saikyo miso and soy milk had a really nice sweetness, but still lightness, to make the recipe great.

  5. Tess, I have and can easily find beautiful jumbo lump crabmeat, but I’m committed to the oysters — they are the main reason I find the recipe so intriguing.
    I’ve seen oysters in plastic containers but perhaps not until closer to Thanksgiving. But thanks for the tip — I will look. Now that I think of it, there are huge and beautiful scallops from Costco in my freezer, but it depends on when I’m able to get the miso. How we can be 45 minutes to an hour away from everything civilized is quite beyond me.
    A confession is due here: sad to say I’m allergic to dairy, and this is part of the reason for my interest. It does sound awfully good, too, and your description really does the recipe justice.
    The mitten state — I love that!

  6. Marcia,
    Hey. Best wishes. When I grew up in the UP, I was a bit resentful. Now I’m in the (Lower Pennisula) mitten and it’s a way to tell people where I live. Just hold up my hand and point.
    I think just regular white miso would work. Taste for salt and sweet… I would not hesitate to use crab, and scallops would be fine too. The soy milk is sort of sweet. I liked it because the chowder was light. anyway, best wishes

  7. The soy milk I use is not sweet in the least. Do you think I should buy a quart of Silk to use in this recipe?

    Over the years, I’ve begun to enjoy the taste of soy milk which is interesting, because I was never a milk drinker, but the ones I use contain nothing but soybeans and filtered water. Like you, I’m not a sweets person.

  8. Marcia,
    The ingredients on the carton say non GMO soybeans, filtered water, calcium carbonate, carageenan, vitamins, and “natural flavorings.” It’s not sweetened—I chose it because it said “unsweetened” on the front of the carton, and it was on sale. But cooked onions taste sweet to me. And carrots.

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