Little clams are in abundant supply in the Murcia region of Spain. Order them at a local restaurant and the owner will tell you proudly that “they came from over there” pointing in the direction of the sea. And you can tell. Beautifully sweet and juicy, clams don’t get fresher or better than this.
They are also amazingly cheap (this bag from the local supermarket cost 3 euros and there’s certainly enough for four portions, if not more) and quick and easy to cook with. What more could you ask for? So I decided to make a simple pasta dish using the clams and other fresh Spanish ingredients.
The first thing to do when you’re cooking with clams is to make sure they’re fresh. Before cooking, make sure none of the shells are open. If any are, give them a sharp tap. If they close, they’re fine for eating, if not, discard them now. The shells should open up while they are cooking (it’s quite miraculous watching it happen). If any clams don’t open during this process, discard them at this stage.
200g dried spaghetti
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 small dried chilli
2 medium plum tomatoes, skinned by immersing in boiling water for 2 minutes and then chopped
150ml dry white wine
500g small fresh clams (almejas)
2 handfuls chopped, fresh parsley
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
Five minutes before it’s ready, add 2 tbsps of olive oil to a pan and add the chopped garlic. Crumble in the chilli and add the chopped tomatoes.
Stir together for a couple of minutes.
Add the clams and pour in the wine. Leave for about 4 minutes, shuffling the pan. When the clams open up your sauce is ready.
Drain the pasta and add it to the clams. Add the chopped parsley and toss everything together.
Serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices.