When buying Vongole or clam shells, you should always opt for the fresh ones, in fact they should be alive. They can easily be stored overnight in the fridge. You can buy them washed, but if not, then you will need to clean them. See my tips below. This recipe is based on the Italian version and requires no cheese, so put that Parmesan back. The seafood is the hero and you truly want to taste that seafood flavour without overpowering it. If using fresh pasta, it’s such an easy and quick meal to make providing your fish monger sells you washed clams. If using dry pasta, allow an additional 10-12 minutes for cooking.
18oz - 500g Vongole clam shells (fresh, live and washed)
3 garlic cloves
1 chili (or use dry chili flakes)
1 glass of dry white wine
½ Lemon squeeze
¾ cup heavy cream
1 handful of flat leaf parsley
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
7oz - 200g Fresh Tagliolini or linguine pasta (see my how to make fresh pasta recipe)
Place a large pot of water on high heat, bring to the boil and salt the water.
Chop the chili, shallot and parsley. Keep separate and aside.
In a frying pan on medium heat, add the olive oil, minced garlic and chili. Once the garlic is starting to sweat, add the clam shells (vongole) and toss or mix in the pan for a few seconds until coated in oil. Add the chopped shallots and deglaze with white wine. Be careful in case of flames. Add the squeeze of half a lemon and the cream. Season with salt. and reduce 2 minutes on full heat.
White the sauce is reducing add your fresh pasta to the water and cook for approx 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and add to frying pan. Cook for another minute, add the chopped parsley, mix well and serve.
If clam shells haven't been washed the sand needs to be purged. First, give the shells a scrub (if dirty) then place them in salted water for approx 4-6 hours. The water should be as salty as sea water. They will open up and release the sand trapped inside. Tip out the water and give them a rinse. The ones that remain open are probably dead and should be discarded. To be sure lightly tap them on the shell, and if the shells don't close then throw them away. If the shells close, then keep them, this may take a few seconds.
If using dry pasta, such as spaghetti or linguine, cook 1 minute less then directions and finsih in the frying pan.