I have noticed that the so-called great cooking experts are creating a violence against decent cooking that actually is surprisingly simple. They will add complexity for its own sake, add surprising taste sensations when none are needed. Among the unnecessary ingredients I have found are lemon juice, white wine, bottarga, various herbs and extraneous spices. All of these things are extra ingredients some of them very hard to find etc. I recall an interesting analogy. A slowfoods maker of salami, which uses no preservatives or chemicals of any kind, yet can stay fresh for over a year. He said, the use of chemicals and extraneous ingredients is always a compensation for bad process and bad ingredients.
So, if you want to make, like i did, the sumptuous local Spaghetti Vongole like I have in Italy, just follow this simple process. Make sure your clams are high quality and fresh, your other ingredients are also high quality (olive oil, garlic, etc) and the rest will take care of itself.
I am making spaghetti vongole or spaghetti with clams. I am eating late because they have to soak for 2-3 hours so they can rinse out their sand. Soak them in slated water so the water mimics the seawater they are used to. They are still living. Well most of them, i removed the ones that didn’t survive the trip from the sea to my house. To find out which ones didn’t make it you tap each clam vigorously against the sink. Clams which are full of sand or otherwise dead will open up and you can toss them away. Likewise you toss away any clams with a broken or compromised shell
It turns out the ingredients you need are very few:
- Kilo of clams
- 332 gr spaghetti
- 1 clove of garlic
- pinch of red pepper (optional)
- Black pepper
- Olive oil cook
Before the soaking is finished, put the kettle of water on for the spaghetti and when it is about to boil start cooking.
Put a skillet on high heat (I used a dutch oven but a skillet with a cover is better). Drizzle oil on the bottom of the pan add the garlic.
When the oil is hot add the clams (and optionally a pinch of Calabrian red peppers—I did). Vigorously shake the pan a few times so the clams open evenly. In a few minutes they will all open and remove them immediately from the heat.
Scoop out the clams but leave the broth in the pot. Turn off the heat on the pan.
When the water boils add salt and when it returns to a boil add the spaghetti too. Half-cook the spaghetti (meaning cook it for half the recommended time). Put the pan back on a high flame, add the half cooked spaghetti. Add a generous ladle of pasta water and sautéed the pasta until it is al dente.
Add the clams back back to the pan and toss, take the pan off the heat
Add parsley and a grating of black pepper.
Pour the wine (in a glass). For this meal we’re pairing (or rather I am) a Villa Bucci Verdicchio Reserve, which is in a separate league from the more widely available pedestrian verdicchio’s,
Villa Bucci is one of the most respected makers.
And then our meal is done….