Tuesday, June 29, 2010

More Seafood: Spaghetti with Clams

Last night, I made a relatively light (as light as pasta can be) summer dinner: spaghetti with manila clams and roma tomatoes.  It's a very quick dish to put together; most of the time is spent prepping: scrubbing the clams, chopping the tomatoes, garlic and parsley.  I picked up 2.25 lbs of farmed live manila clams from Costco.  I'm always wary of purchasing prepackaged live seafood, but these clams looked like they were still alive (just slightly opened) and were packaged the same day.  As soon as I got home, I put the clams in a pot with ice and water and a little bit of flour.  They were fairly clean too; they did not release much grit, but I let them sit and scrubbed them very carefully one by one just in case. 
To finish the prep, I chopped 4 roma tomatoes on the vine (about 1 pound), 3 cloves of garlic, and 1/2 bunch of parsley.  While boiling water for the pasta and cooking the pasta:
  • Heat up a few tablespoons of olive oil in a wok over medium heat, then saute the garlic for 1 minute
  • Add the clams, 1/2 cup of white wine, zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon and saute until the first clams start to open.  Cover and turn off the heat if the pasta isn't ready yet
  • Cook the pasta until it is still very al dente, about 6 minutes
  • For the last minute that the pasta is cooking (after it has been cooking for 5 minutes), turn the heat on the wok to high and add the tomatoes and continuously stir.  Season with 1-2 tsp of chili flakes, freshly ground pepper and salt (if necessary; sometimes the liquid that the clams release is very briny, so you don't need to add much salt)
  • Using tongs, add the pasta to the wok and toss everything together until the pasta is cooked and sprinkle fresh parsley on towards the end and taste for seasoning.  Add pasta water if you want the sauce to be more liquid
It's a simple, but very flavorful pasta; very refreshing and filling on a summer day with a good glass of white wine.  There's a nice garlicky undertone and heat from the chili flakes that goes well with the fresh clams, complemented by the substance and acid from the tomatoes, brightness from the lemon, and freshness from the parsley, and the noodles absorb some of the nice briny / seafood flavor of the clams.  We paired it with a bottle of the 2007 Alma Rosa Pinot Blanc from Santa Rita Hills, which was a good pairing; the wine was interesting enough to stand up to the flavors of the pasta and good on its own.

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