There are certain dishes that I always end up choosing when I go to a good restaurant. In Italian places this dish tends to be Spaghetti alle Vongole or Spaghetti with clams. I’ve got fantastic memories of little hole in the wall, seaside places in italy where this dish has been amazing, especially in Sardinia.
I like to cook very much but for some reason this dish has always frightened me. Actually, I know the reason. Cooking shellfish.
Knowing what to buy, how much to buy, how to store it, how to clean it, how to cook it and most importantly, how not to give anyone food poisoning has always put me off.
Yesterday though, I passed the fish counter in my local supermarket and saw a lovely looking bunch of fresh clams and on a whim, finally bought them. I bought the whole bag and maybe should have twigged when the fishmonger said “are you sure you want all of them?” and “that will be £21 please” that maybe I’d bought too many. This was further cemented when I actually read my recipe at home which suggested 500g for 4 people. I had bought 2kg.
No matter, I plowed on and consulted the great google for a good recipe. Do what I did, search for “spaghetti alle vongole” and in the UK, at least, one of the first links is to a guardian article by a very helpful person trying out other people’s recipes. I went with her recipe here and it turned out both authentic and delicious.
You can see the final result
According to my guinea pig food taster (husband) it was really pretty tasty.
My top tips:
– buy more clams than the recipe says (maybe not 5 times as much) but lots don’t open so actually probably 1kg would have been right
– if you are freaked about food poisoning just don’t use any that haven’t opened. If in doubt throw it out.
– do soak and rinse the clams really well, for at least a couple of hours to avoid any sand or grit
– over index in the parsley. It makes a difference.
I am so pleased I actually made it. Next stop , creme brûlée!!