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Japanese Local Cuisine

Fukagawa Meshi

Chef, Minokamo takes us on a culinary adventure around Japan. She researches, writes about, and arranges regional dishes that capture the sensory enjoyments, local climate, history, and unique lifestyles of each region. This episode explores Tokyo's; Fukagawa Meishi.


Ingredients (2 cups uncooked rice makes 4 rice bowls)

2 cups rice
300 g asari / Japanese littleneck clam
1 tbsp + 1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
400 cc water
1 tbsp sake (or white wine)
1/2 abura-age / deep-fried tofu pouch
1/2 fresh ginger
1 pinch salt
Japanese parsley to garnish (optional)

How to Make

1. If the asari clams are not yet de-sanded, soak in salt water and draw out the sand. Wash the rice and let it rest in a strainer. Pour hot water over the abura-age to remove excess oil, and finely chop. Finely chop the ginger. Cut the mitsuba into 2 cm long pieces.

2. Place the clams, 200 cc water, 1 tbsp soy sauce, sake, and mirin in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the clam shells open. Remove from heat and set aside the clams. Set aside 1 tbsp broth. Add water to the remaining broth to make 400 cc.

3. Place the rice, abura-age, ginger, salt, and broth in a rice cooker and cook. (Alternatively, use the rice cooker’s scale to measure the broth.)

4. Remove the clams from the shells, place the clams in a bowl, mix with 1 tbsp broth and 2 tsp soy sauce, and soak while the rice cooks. When the rice is cooked, mix with the clams and mitsuba.

Asari clams are a harbinger of spring in Japan. In the premodern capital of Edo (currently Tokyo), the Fukagawa area (Koto City) produced an abundance of clams and inspired this dish. It started when fishermen simmered their catch of clams and poured it over rice, and then made its way into homes where mothers cooked the clams and rice together.

Today, there are mainly two styles of Fukagawa Meshi: kake, where the clams and broth are seasoned with miso or soy sauce and poured over rice, and takikomi, where the clams and rice are cooked together. This recipe follows the latter style. Although it’s fine to cook the clams with the rice, I like to cook the clams for a shorter time, soak in soy sauce, and add to freshly cooked rice before serving, as this makes the clams nice and tender.

minokamo | Cookery expert / Photographer
Gifu Prefecture native minokamo’s culinary adventures were inspired by her fond childhood memories of cooking with her grandmother. She researches, writes about, and arranges regional dishes that capture, through their preparation and presentation, sensory enjoyments inspired by local climate, history, and lifestyles. Ryori tabi kara tadaima(Back from a Cooking Journey; Fudosha), published in September 2020, is a collection of recipes from minokamo’s visits to homes up and down Japan.