Filipino Clam Soup by Homer De Ala
Filipino Clam Soup by Homer De Ala of 7th West
“Our mom is a wonderful cook, but our dad was the one who cooked for us everyday for our family. This is one of my favorite recipes from him. He was young when he passed, and I never got to learn the recipe directly from him. This is my interpretation. I enjoy the simplicity and homeyness of it all. This is definitely a recipe to cook that expresses the Filipinos love for food and hospitality. - Homer :-)
3 tbls olive oil or butter
1 medium yellow or white onion, sliced
1-½ inch knob of ginger, cut into coin/medallion rings
6 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 chayotes, peeled & halved, thinly sliced.
1 bottle of clam juice
Optional: ½ tsp MSG
2 lb. manila or little-neck clams, cleaned (see prep notes)
---> or 1 lb fresh clams, plus 1 pack frozen clams, defrosted
1 cup of fresh or frozen malunggay/moringa leaves
Patis/fish sauce to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
2 stalks of green onion, thinly sliced
Optional: slices of lemon
Freshly cooked white jasmine rice
In a stock pot, saute ginger & onion in 2 Tbls of olive oil or butter, over medium high heat heat, until onions turn opaque
Push ginger & onion to the side, add remaining 1 Tbls of oil/butter & saute garlic until golden brown & aromatic.
Add chayote, clam juice, optional MSG, and enough water to cover ingredients. Bring to a boil & then lower heat to a simmer. Continue for 6 minutes until the chayote are tender but still have a crisp bite.
Add clams, cover, and simmer until fresh clams open up, about 3 minutes.
Add malunggay or chili leaves. Simmer for 1 minute.
Taste broth & adjust seasoning to your preference using fish sauce, salt & pepper.
Sprinkle with green onion.
Serve with piping hot white rice & lemon wedges for guests to squeeze on if preferred,.
You can find bottled clam juice throughout most of the year at your larger Asian supermarkets and major commercial supermarkets like Safeway, Lucky, Albertsons, etc. Some more common brand names to Google include Snow’s Bumble Bee, Crown Prince, Cento, and Reese. The water included in canned clams is not the same.
Fresh clams are readily available at many of your local Asian supermarkets. To prep, add clams to a large bowl of water an hour before cooking; this allows the clams to take in clean water & filter/purge out gritty sand & other tidbits out of their system that you don’t want in your soup.
If you’re craving a lot more clam meat, feel free to substitute 1 lb. of the fresh clams for 1 pack of frozen, de-shelled clam meat--also available at most large Asian supermarkets. Make sure to defrost prior to adding to soup with fresh clams. Canned clams are also a great substititute.
Fresh malunggay--more commonly known as “moringa”--can sometimes be found at Seafood City Supermarket or at your local farmers markets (if you don’t see it, ask the farmers/vendors if they know where to get it). Prepping fresh malunggay is tedious but definitely more fun as a group activity. The process of removing the leaves is similar to removing fresh thyme or rosemary from their stems--holding the top end with on hand & pulling backwards with your other set of fingers against the way that it grows (towards the bottom end). I recommend Googling “Prepare Fresh Thyme for Cooking” for a clearer idea of the process.
If fresh is unavailable or you don’t want to go through the work of prepping fresh, you can use frozen malunggay leaves or fresh/frozen chili (sili) leaves for a different flavor; all are found atf most larger Filipino/Asian supermarkets.
Chayote can be found at Filipino/Asian and Mexican/Latino markets, and sometimes at major supermarkets like Safeway, Lucky, Albertsons, etc. You’ll usually find it near the squash, papayas, and eggplants. Google “chayote” to see what it looks like.