Since it was only recently that I wrote a post on Spaghetti alle vongole (on 16th May: (https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2011/05/16/spaghetti-alle-vongole/), you might wonder why I would go to the trouble of repeating myself on the subject. The reasons are two and not unimportant.
The first has to do with size: Size matters. As does quantity. It is one thing to cook a meal for 2-3 people and another to have to cook the some meal for more than 6 people. You need larger frying pans and saucepans, for instance. I can do that acrobatic sautéing ‘thing’ of making food jump up and down off a frying pan when I am cooking for two or even four people … but just haven’t got the strength in my arms when it comes for larger quantities!
The other reason has to do with the kind of clam used for this recipe. In the first post, I used the type of venus clam that goes by the name of ‘vongole verace’ … which is actually an import from the Philippines so far as clams go (I read about this in an article in the “Gambero Rosso” magazine a couple of years ago). They are good for breeding and farming in large quantities and they taste very nice indeed, nothing wrong with them.
The kind of clam I used to today, instead, are autoctonous clams, i.e. original to the shores of Italy and in this case fished near Anzio. The taste? Nice. Actually, more than nice. The difference in taste is also reflected in their respective prices … we are talking Eu12 per kg for the vongole veraci, and Eu20 per kilo for the vongole di Anzio!!!
So the post today is a double whammy, in a way, for me: I got to cook super duper vongole and in smaller quantities. The vongole didn’t need to be rinsed more than once, after I had left them in very salty water for about an hour, because they didn’t release any sand.
This is 500g of vongole di Anzio. Their colour is lighter than the other kind of vongola verace. This amount is adequate for two very greedy people, or for three ordinary helpings. This amount would just about cover four people who like to eat in order to live — the sort of people who don’t deserve to eat vongole, in my view.
I poured some olive oil into the frying pan, adding some garlic and chili. When the garlic turned golden, I added the vongole. The water was coming to the boil, I added salt … and in went the linguine … The clams are still shut in this photo … I covered them with a lid for a few minutes so that they ‘steamed’ open. I did not add wine. I stopped adding wine to vongole a few years ago, I don’t see the necessity for it … but some people still do and that’s okay.
When the linguine were only a few minutes away from being ‘al dente’ in consistency, I removed them from the boiling water and put them into the frying pan that was housing the vongole and their delicious juices. I added one ladle of the cooking water and let it get absorbed by the pasta … I tasted a strand of linguine and it was still hard to bite … so I added more of the cooking water, repeating the process. In other words, one cooks the pasta a little bit as one would a risotto: adding a little liquid at a time, making sure that it gets absorbed by the pasta until it reaches the ‘just right’ phase of eatability.
The pasta absorbs the liquid and releases its starches at the same time … so that the sauce looks ‘creamy’ … can you see?
And then, because the amount of pasta allowed it, I was able to do my show-offy ‘thing’ of making it jump up and down out of the frying pan in order to coat the pasta with the tasty sauce …. instead of using two wooden spoons to do the same.
So … if you want to cook pasta alle vongole in large sizes, for over six people, please refer to my first post. If you want to cook pasta for a more intimate situation (i.e. for up to 4 people), today’s post will be a good guide.