Words cannot describe the joy I feel when a plate of delicious seafood is set in front of me. While I am not up for eating everything that thrives in salty water, I do confess to having somewhat of a love affair with many edible sea creatures. From shrimp to squid to mussels to lobster, I have a constant craving for fresh seafood.
There have been two times in my life, until recently, that I can remember having the best seafood I had ever tasted. The first time was in Boston, MA, when I enjoyed my first, freshly caught-then-boiled lobster. Simply served in a cardboard tray with a side of melted butter, that lobster changed my life.
A couple of years later, on my honeymoon, I had the most amazing pasta dishes featuring mussels, scallops, lobster…this list goes on…in Positano, Italy.
Fast forward to today. Living in Tokyo, Japan I have been blessed to be surrounded by fresh seafood on a daily basis. This fact may have been one of the most exciting parts about returning to Japan after a brief visit to the U.S. the past two months. I realized how much I had taken this luxury for granted when we returned to the midwest. Land of the casserole and hotdish. Nothing against those dishes! I love them. But I am “happy as a clam” eating…well…clams.
The recipe for today is inspired by the meals I enjoyed in Positano. An olive oil and butter based white wine sauce gives sweetness and fruitiness to the dish. The clams were so fresh that they tasted like I picked them right out of the ocean! Beautiful.
Spaghetti and Clams in White Wine Sauce
1 pound littleneck clams, scrubbed clean
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
salt and pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Bring a large pot of water to boil. When the water is boiling, add the salt, then the pasta. Cook 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente.
In a large skillet, add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, shallot and red pepper flakes and cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Careful not to burn the garlic! Stir constantly and adjust heat as necessary. (*note: adding the red pepper flakes at this point allows them to infuse the oil/butter without adding too much heat to the dish.)
Add the white wine to the skillet, scraping the bottom bits into the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Allow the sauce to reduce slightly (about 5 minutes) and add the clams. Cover the skillet and let sit for 3 to 4 minutes to allow the clams to open.
Using tongs, transfer the pasta from the pot to the skillet with the clams. Toss to coat. Add the parsley and serve in individual bowls or, my personal favorite, family style.