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To prepare mirugai

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All pictures taken by my wife Michele with a Nikon Coolpix 950 or a Kodak DC260.

Mirugai is Japanese for geoduck (pronounced gooeyduck) clam; it's really good if you make sure to get it while it's still alive and really fresh. Too many people buy them when they're already dead, cleaned, and split, because they don't know how to prepare them; then when they get them home and serve them a couple of hours later, the texture is already ruined and the flavor has begun to fade.

It's really easy to prepare. All you need is a good, sharp knife. It's a help if it has a single-sided blade like Japanese sushi knives, but it is possible with any good sharp knife.

A 1-1 lb. clam makes enough to serve four or six people if it's one of many poke or sushi dishes in a meal.

So it begins
Here is the beast just brought home from the store.
first incision
Hold the clam under cold running water to clean it of sand and bits of shell as you go. Use a boning knife to separate the clam from its shell where they are joined at the edges.
now the other side
Here I am doing the other side of the shell
open it up
Now open it up and discard the two halves of the shell.
discard the body parts
Discard the body sac and darker parts.
Loosen the skin with hot water
Turn off the cold and turn on the hot water and run the clam's skin under the water to loosen it, starting from the body and working your way down the neck.
work your way to the end of the neck
Rotate the clam as you go, being sure to give all the skin a good soaking in hot water. Take maybe a minute over this altogether.
start peeling from the body
Turn off the hot now, and turn the cold back on. Start peeling the clam from the body end.
work down the neck
Remove the skin from the neck as you would a stocking.
finally remove like a stocking
Here is the skin all peeled off.
relax in ice water
Now you must let the clam relax in a bath of ice water for about 30 minutes. This will give the clam its final texture, crisp and firm but not chewy.
separate the neck from the body
Starting now to work with your really sharp knife, separate the neck from the body. In Japan, they do not eat the neck raw; it is used to make soups. You may do the same, chopping it into little pieces for use in a clam chowder. I like to eat it raw, particularly in poke. Choose for yourself.
split it down the middle
Try to follow the line on the clam's side as you split the neck in half.
rinse the sand out
Give the clam halves a good rinse under the cold tap, making sure to eliminate any sand from the gullet.
very shallow cuts
Starting at the tip of the neck, hold the knife very nearly flat to the cutting surface and shave very thin slices.
continue working like this
Continue like this back along the neck.
thin, thin slices
Thin, thin slices
you can see the blade through the meat
So thin you can see the blade of your knife through the meat of the clam
cut the body in half lenghthwise
If you're going to eat the body as well, split it down the middle.
and dice it
Cut it into half-inch dice.

Now that your clam is prepared, you should be ready to serve it right away.

Last modified 2020-10-18