• Manila Clams with Soy Butter


A Well-Traveled Japanese Favorite

By Andrew Zimmern

The combination of sake, soy and butter is worth experimenting with. This dish is a well-traveled Japanese go-to favorite. It’s the most basic and often replicated izakaya clam recipe that I can think of. You’ve probably tasted it and not realized what the magical thrill ride was—it’s the soy and butter. It’s fast and easy, and paired with a bowl of short-grain rice and some fresh shiso—or shiso-based furikake (rice seasoning)—it’s one of my favorite simple weeknight dinners.

Manila Clams with Soy Butter

Servings: 2

Total: 20 minutes


  • 1/2 cup sake
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • One 1  1/2-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 2 dried hot red chiles
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds Manila clams, scrubbed
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • Salt
  • Minced scallions, for garnish


In a large saucepan, combine the sake, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, chiles and garlic and bring just to a boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Add the clams, cover and cook over high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, until the clams open, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams to shallow bowls; discard the chiles and any clams that do not open.

Add the butter to the saucepan and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Season the sauce lightly with salt, then ladle over the clams and garnish with minced scallions; serve right away.

Photograph by Madeleine Hill.

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