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Gathering clams on Puget Sound and Hood Canal beaches is an enjoyable outdoor activity, and relatively easy to do, especially low tides. And good news, a week-long stretch of those begins this Thursday.

This week, Yasuhiro “Yasu” Kusano, a chef at Shiro’s Sushi in Belltown, offers a delightful, yet quick and simple way to steam clams with a Japanese twist.

Kusano was born in Fukushima in Japan, where his parents owned a small fish store. When he was a young boy, his father took him to an upscale authentic Japanese restaurant, and after that experience he decided to become a chef.

His first cooking job in 2000 was at the landmark Gonpachi Restaurant, a Japanese Izakaya, in Tokyo, Japan. In 2007, Kusano moved to the United States for a sous chef position at Gonpachi in Beverly Hills, Calif., and one year later became their executive chef. In 2013, he moved to Seattle to join I Love Sushi in Bellevue, before heading to Shiro’s Sushi in 2014.

Yasuhiro “Yasu” Kusano a chef at Shiro’s Sushi in Seattle’s Belltown offers his take on a razor clam recipe. Photo courtesy of Shiro’s Sushi.
Yasuhiro “Yasu” Kusano a chef at Shiro’s Sushi in Seattle’s Belltown offers his take on a razor clam recipe. Photo courtesy of Shiro’s Sushi.

Low tides expose beaches for gathering clams

Some of spring’s lowest tides will occur beginning Thursday through June 9, exposing ample Puget Sound and Hood Canal beaches for gathering a wide variety of clams, especially the highly sought-after Manila littleneck clam.

The Potlatch Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Tidelands and Potlatch State Park in Hood Canal are open through July 15; and Sequim Bay State Park is open through June 30. Other popular places to find clams are Dosewallips State Park, Birch Bay State Park, Quilcene Bay State Fish and Wildlife Tidelands and Toandos Peninsula State Park. Note: All eastern mainland beaches from Everett south into southern Puget Sound are also closed for shellfish due to unsafe pollution levels.

Before heading to a beach, know the rules first by checking the regulation pamphlet. Then check the state Fish and Wildlife website, the state fisheries hotline at 866-880-5431 or wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish. State Fish and Wildlife also offers a good interactive shellfish map.

Lastly, call the marine biotoxin hotline at 800-562-5632 or visit the Department of Health website.

Low tides: Thursday, minus-0.6 feet at 9:19 a.m.; Friday, -1.8 at 10:03 a.m.; Saturday, -2.6 at 10:47 a.m.; Sunday, -3.1 at 11:32 a.m.; Monday, -1.3 at 12:16 p.m.; Tuesday, -2.7 at 1:02 p.m.; June 8, -2.0 at 1:48 p.m.; and June 9, -1.0 at 2:35 p.m.

If you miss out on the upcoming low-tide series, plenty of other chances are coming up, namely June 17-25 and June 30-July 8.

Sally Barton, of Seattle, digs for clams with her daughters Alice, 6 (center), and Emily, 8, on the spit at Fort Flagler State Park. It was their first time harvesting shellfish. (Jeff Layton photo)
Sally Barton, of Seattle, digs for clams with her daughters Alice, 6 (center), and Emily, 8, on the spit at Fort Flagler State Park. It was their first time harvesting shellfish. (Jeff Layton photo)

Steamed Clams in Sake

1 pound clams

1/2 cup sake

1 ounce butter

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Small pinch dried chili pepper

Chopped green onions

  1. Purge clams in cold water and wash the shells in the water.
  2. Place clams and sake in a medium-sized pot.
  3. Cover clams in the pot and turn the heat to high.
  4. Once it starts boiling, and clams start opening, uncover and add butter, soy sauce and dried chili pepper.
  5. Shake the pot, or stir the clams, to make certain that all the clams have opened, and all the ingredients are mixed in. Discard the ones that don’t open.
  6. Serve in a bowl or deep plate and garnish with chopped green onions.
(Seattle Times archive)
(Seattle Times archive)

Coming up

This season, esteemed local chefs will share recipes and advice on how to cook a wide variety of local seafood weekly through October.

This year’s lineup of chefs include Tom Douglas, owner of Lola, Palace Kitchen, Dahlia Lounge, among others; executive chef Jason Brzozowy of Maria Hines’ Tilth; chef Shota Nakajima, owner of Naka; chef Taichi Kitamura, owner of Sushi Kappo Tamura; executive chef Wesley Hood of AQUA by El Gaucho along with other chefs from El Gaucho, El Gaucho in Bellevue and The Inn at El Gaucho; executive chef Pat Donahue at Anthony’s Restaurants; Jason Wilson, executive chef and owner of Miller’s Guild and Coffee Flour; Taylor Hoang, from Pho Cyclo; Chef Maximillian Petty, from Eden Hill; and Chef Megan Coombes, from Altstadt.

Recipes will be posted every Wednesday and/or Thursday through Nov. 2. Also, if you have a recipe you’d like to reel-in my way, please let me know and I will post them, and will even test it out with my family and friends.