Sit me down in any Italian restaurant and chances are I would have skimmed the menu to see they offered spaghetti alle vongole, even before you’ve gotten comfortable in your seat.
If they did, there was no need to think twice about it- spaghetti alle vongole it was. (If they didn’t, a quick flip to the dessert selection was in order, followed by a lot of humming and hawing over getting a steak or some other pasta.)
For all the love I have for the classic Italian dish though, it had always been sacred restaurant food. You know, the kind of food you only ever have at restaurants that completes the whole experience of being all dressed up and eating at a slightly fancy restaurant.
That was, until I learnt that clams were available at my local market.
As it turns out, making spaghetti alle vongole (or more accurately, fettuccine alle vongole) wasn’t really that much harder than ordering it at a restaurant- and a lot more delicious that I expected.
It’s hard not to love the combination of sweet clam meat and white wine but sauteed in some chopped garlic and finely sliced red chili and tossed in some pasta and fresh parsley takes that sweet, delicious combination to a whole new level.
Now if I could get a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a cup of thick, rich espresso, I might just never have to dine at an Italian restaurant again
Fettuccine alle vongole
1/2 packet of fettuccine
A glug of olive oil
1/2 a head of garlic, peeled and minced finely
1 chili padi, sliced finely
About 3 glasses of white wine
A small handful of parsley, chopped
- Soak the clams in a large bowl of water for about ten minutes. Drain them, discard any opened ones and set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a large pinch of salt and the fettuccine. Let the water come back to boil and cook the pasta till barely al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving the water it was cooked in, and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chili, frying till fragrant. Add the clams, wine and pasta. Cover for a couple of minutes, cooking until most of the clams have opened. Add some of the reserved liquid if the pasta gets dry. Discard the clams that remain closed. Remove the pan from heat and season the pasta with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with chopped parsley. Serves 4