Monday, July 8, 2013

linguine alle vongole: linguine with clams

My favourite pasta is Linguine alle Vongole. I love clams. In fact, I love all shellfish, but anything linguine and clams, I absolutely adore. When I eat at Italian restaurants, I inevitably would order either this dish, or Penne Arrabbiata.

The reason why I do not cook this at home all the time is because I am really fussy about my clams. I will only buy live clams. I know I can get them in packs at supermarkets but I simply do not like dead clams. There is nothing wrong with those clams. It is just me.

I usually buy my clams at Sheng Shong Supermarket at Bedok, which is close to where I live. But they do not always have them. When I was there a couple of days ago, I saw some clams in the tank and happily, I bought a bag.

Once I got home, I placed the clams in a bowl of cold water and added a couple of handfuls of salt. They were left in the water over-night (minimum 2 hours of soaking) so that any grit would be pushed out of the clams. For a detailed guide on how to clean clams, see here.

Anyway, it was quite cute how the clams would blow little spouts of water once in a while. Pity I could not keep them as pets. They are simply too delicious! (And they do get a bit boring after about 10 spouts.)

I sliced about 3 cloves of garlic and 2 bird's eye chillis and set them aside.

In a large pot, I cooked the linguine according to the manufacturer's instructions.

I drizzled olive oil into a warm dutch oven and added the chilli and garlic. I sauteed the chilli and garlic for a minute or so, and turned the heat up.

I drained the clams, and added them into the dutch oven. The dutch oven was covered tightly with a lid and cooked for 20 seconds. 

The clams were removed (throw out any that is not opened), and I removed the shells from half of them and the flesh was returned to the pan.

In the meantime, I added the white wine and allow it to reduce. Once that happened, I turned off the heat, and added the drained linguini, pepper and chopped parsley.

I gave it a mix and the dish was done.

The clams with their shells still on were placed on top of the pasta and served immediately, with more extra-virgin olive drizzled on top.

Linguine Alle Vongole (Serves 2)
Adapted from recipe by Giorgio Locatelli

30 - 40 clams
200 g linguine
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 tsp finely sliced red chillies
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
150 ml white wine
6 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper

1. Put the clams in a bowl of cold salted water. Leave for at least 2 hours. 
2. Carefully remove the clams from the water with your hands, taking care not to disturb the sand. Wash them thoroughly under cold running water, removing any sandy deposit from the shells. 
3. Cook the linguine in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, stirring well at the beginning so that the pasta doesn't stick together. 
4. Warm the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chilli and garlic, and gently fry for a minute until slightly coloured. 
5. Raise the heat to high, then add the clams. Cover the pan tightly and cook for 20 seconds, shaking the pan, until the clams are open. Discard any that remain closed. 
6. Pour in the white wine and simmer briskly to reduce. Remove from the heat. 
7. Using a perforated spoon, remove the clams from the pan. Remove the shells from half of them and return the flesh to the pan. Save those with shells as a garnish. 
8. Check the pasta. When it is 'al dente', drain and add to the clam sauce. 
9. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper. Toss to mix, and drizzle with a few drops of oil. 
10. Arrange the pasta on plates with some unshelled clams on top. Serve immediately.

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