Mussel and Leek Chowder

Mirugai no Omi-Otsuké

Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

An American Taste of Japan

An American Taste of Japan

By Elizabeth Andoh

Published 1985

  • About

Neither mussels nor leeks are native to Japan, but both are enormously popular among those Japanese who live abroad. In this chowder, the “foreign” broth from cooking the mussels enriches a traditional Japanese stock that’s later flavored by leeks and thickened with bean paste. All together it makes for a memorable cross-cultural soup.


  • 12–15 fresh mussels
  • 20 square inches dashi kombu (dried kelp for stock making)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • 2–2½ cups dashi (basic sea stock)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon saké (Japanese rice wine)
  • 1 small leek (about 2 ounces ), trimmed of roots and tough green stalk
  • tablespoons shiro miso (light fermented bean paste)
  • 8 stalks flat-leafed Italian parsley, for garnish


With a brush, scrub the mussels well and remove their beards. Place the shells in a 4-quart, wide-mouthed pot with the dried kelp, water, and 1 tablespoon of rice wine. Cover the pot and, over high heat, cook the mussels until the shells open (you can hear them do this), which should take about 2 minutes from the time the water boils. Discard any shells that don’t open.

Pour the broth through a cloth- or paper-lined strainer or colander into a 1-quart measuring cup. Add basic sea stock to the broth to make a total of 3 cups of liquid, and season with the soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of rice wine.

Remove the mussels from their steamed open shells, making sure that all traces of beard and grit are removed. If the mussels are larger than 1 inch, cut them in half. Reserve the mussel pieces.

Slit the white end of the leek lengthwise in a deep X and rinse under cold water to remove any sandy soil. Cut across the leek at ¼-inch intervals to chop the vegetable coarsely.

In a 2-quart pot, combine the seasoned broth and leek and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes until the vegetable wilts. Add the mussel pieces to the soup. Dissolve the bean paste in a separate bowl with a bit of broth ladled from the pot, then return all to the pot.

Rinse the flat-leafed parsley under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Tear off the leaves and chop coarsely. Serve the soup hot, garnishing each bowl with a bit of the chopped parsley.