Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Real One-and- Only Spaghetti alle Vongole (bianco)

For those who wish to taste the authentic spaghetti with clams, this is the one folks; a never fail (unless the quality of the clams sucks), people pleaser and impression maker.
You may use spaghetti or spaghettini depending on one’s preference. Canned clams may be used but do not expect to have that fresh seafood flavor.

You will need:

350 gr spaghetti
1 kilo of clams or 200 gr of frozen or canned clams “al natural”
1 or 2 cloves of garlic depending on size
1 bunch of Italian parsley
dash of hot pepper (chili pepper)
Olive oil extra virgin preferably Tuscan
White wine

Soak the clams in fresh water for about 1 to 2 hours, changing the water at least 3 times during this period. Divide the amount of clams into half, half you will extract the meat out of and throw the shells away, the other half you will leave steamed open with the meat inside. After steaming, strain the clam water and set aside.
Take ¼ of the clam meat extracted and finely chop it as well as half the bunch of parsley and set aside with the other ¼ clam meat un-chopped.

Using 10 tablespoons of olive oil, sauté in a large wide low pan the finely chopped garlic with the dash or more (depending on tastes although this is not a dish meant to be spicy, just a hint) of chili pepper; as soon as the garlic begins to take on a little bit of color, add ¼ to 1/2 cup of good dry white wine (not vermouth) and let evaporate a bit. Add in a cup of the clam water and boil down until it is reduced a little more.

At this point over a lively flame, add the chopped and whole clam meat and parsley and boil quickly for 30 seconds then turn off the heat. Season to taste with salt. You should have at this point a reasonably liquid mixture.

Proceed with the cooking of the pasta, when al dente or just a tad before, drain and add the pasta to the clam mix, which you will have put back on the flame just before draining the pasta. Turn up the heat and sauté the pasta in the clam mix adding at this point, the clams in their shells; toss and mix for about 1 minute or more, the pasta should soak up some of the liquid. Serve in hot bowls with a garnish of chopped parsley and never ever add cheese to this; fish dishes are never garnished with grated cheese (major faux pas). ;-)

For those of you who like red clam sauce, that recipe will follow shortly.

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