Freshwater Shijimi Clam (300g)
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Seasonal high quality Shijimi Clam
Direct from Toyosu Market in Tokyo
By professional buyer, picking the quality that is most worth for the price this season.
Shijimi is a freshwater clam that is frequently featured in Japanese cuisine and is used almost interchangeably with the similar shellfish ‘asari’.
It can be found in all stretches of the country from ‘Lake Ogawara’ and ‘Lake Jusanko’ in Aomori, to ‘Lake Shinjiko’ in Shimane Prefecture that interestingly is the highest producer of shijimi in Japan.
All these examples have a slight sodium level in the water that makes it the suitable environment for shijimi to thrive.
While it is best collected from July to August when the flesh is plump and succulent, it can still be harvested in winter where the cold water makes it sweeter and firmer.
The Mighty Shellfish
Fueling Flavors and Wellness
A formidable food, shijimi is highly nutritional. Brimming with vitamins A and B12, along with amino acids that are beneficial to the immune system, it also contains one called ‘acorbine’ that helps protect the liver.
Together with strong levels of ‘ornithine’, shijimi is a ‘power’ food of sorts where these substances provide excellent support in detoxifying the liver, essentially curing hangovers and fatigue.
Knowing this potential, many local eateries around areas that shijimi is prominent in, use the shellfish in food like ramen as a topping and for the broth. This way, they are able to provide both delicious flavours and a way to ease the body from a night of drinking at the same time.
With a saturated amount of succinic acid that provides the umami in shijimi, freezing it before having it be prepared allows for the umami to strengthen and permeate the meat.
A unique way to experience this all for yourself is in the form of shijimi curry that is a local delicacy which can be found in the Shimane Prefecture.
Distinguishing Shijimi and Asari
Size, Appearance, and Culinary Delights
As they are both quite similar it is important to note the key differences between the two. Shijimi is quite small at around 2 to 3 centimetres in diameter while asari sits at around 3 to 7 centimetres.
Asari is easily identifiable with its lighter colour and varying patterns on its shell, where in contrast shijimi is purely black without any sort of pattern. Shijimi can be spotted in freshwater areas like lakes and rivers, whereas asari lives in the sea.
While both shijimi and asari are delicious and filled with umami, shijimi has a defined taste that helps identify the difference between the two.
On the contrary, it is no surprise that asari and shijimi both provide incredible nutritional value for the body which is a welcome similarity in this case.
For food, asari tends to be prominent in a wider range of dishes like sake steamed, on rice, and even clam chowder, whilst shijimi is used in ‘tsukudani’, a savoury side dish where it is simmered.
However, both are suitable substitutes within miso soup, which may possibly be the most common form of dish you can usually find for these clams.
Toyosu for seafood, Ota for fruits
Japan's two representative largest markets
Both Ota and Toyosu Market play crucial roles as Japan's major fruit and seafood markets, contributing significantly to the country's food supply.
Located in the heart of Tokyo, both markets enjoy excellent transportation access, making them popular choices for numerous retail businesses and restaurants to source their products.
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