Creamy Clam Chowder features fresh clams from Aichi Prefecture in Japan. Aichi is part of the Tokai (東海) region of Japan, also known as the breadbasket of Japan. Tokai translates to Eastern Sea, and Aichi is home to Mikawa Bay, that opens on the Pacific Ocean. Seafood from Mikawa Bay is famous around Japan and the clams are a favorite around the country.
In Japan you can find small black clams called Asari that are usually used in miso soup or pickled and served with rice. Larger clams are known as Hamaguri and considered a delicacy.
Creamy Clam Chowder is loved in Japan and features some lovely ingredients from around the country – fresh potatoes, cream and milk from Hokkaido, onions from Awaji Island, and of course clams from Aichi or Kumamoto prefectures.
When cooking with milk and cream, the most important thing to remember is not to let the soup boil once the milk or cream has been added. Boiling will curdle the milk and ruin your chowder. Simmer the chowder to heat it up, but do not let it boil.
I usually flavor clam chowder with sea salt and fresh black pepper and then sprinkle a little ground thyme on top. Chopped scallions, parsley, tarragon, or chervil also make great toppers. You can use paprika to give it some color. Japanese herbs such as mitsuba and shiso can be used as well to give your chowder a more authentic Japanese taste.
Along with Hiroshima Oyster Stew, this is one of my favorite seafood chowders.