Wednesday 30 May 2018


Seafood Pasta -

with clams, squid and prawns 

Recently, I was watching Saturday Kitchen on TV and saw Jamie Oliver's Five Ingredients Recipe for a spicy pasta dish with 'nduja and clams.  Later that week our local fishmonger had a supply of fresh palourdes.

I don't know why a Sussex fishmonger uses the French name rather than call them clams (carpet shell clams to be precise). Jamie uses the Italian, vongole.  In Spain we know them as almejas.

'Nduja seems to be the trendy new ingredient and seen on a number of bar menus recently. Its a soft, spreadable spicy italian sausage flavoured with paprika.  I suppose the Spanish equivalent is sobrasada, a sort of spreadable chorizo.  I had neither, but I find ordinary chorizo picante excellent with seafood so used this instead.  I am a great fan of clams but Sylvia prefers prawns, so with inspiration from Jamie, I put together my own mixed seafood dish with clams, squid and prawns.

Ingredients   - serves two
·                     150 g fresh pasta* - linguine, tagliatelle or spaghetti
·                     500 g clams  (palourdes/almejas/vongole or any other clams that might be available, such as cockles)
·                     25 g chorizo picante
·                     1 medium hot red chilli
·                     Two small squid
·                     200 g raw prawns
·                     small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
·                     100 ml dry white or rosé wine (or dry Fino sherry or dry vermouth)
*if using dried pasta, the cooking times below will need to be adjusted and the pasta started sooner.

If you are not using the clams immediately, take them out of any plastic bag or container they were bought in and keep in the refrigerator in a bowl or colander with a wet towel on top or loosely wrapped in damp newspaper in the salad drawer of your fridge until needed.  Some say they can be kept for a day or so but I wouldn’t  leave them for more than a few hours. Do not leave them in a bowl of water or ice as they will probably die.  When needed, rinse thoroughly under running water.  If they have been bought from a supermarket or fishmonger they will almost certainly have been purged but leaving them in running water in the sink for up to 30 minutes just before you cook them will probably remove any remaining sand or grit.  (Some recipes suggest adding oatmeal to the water for the purging process but there seems to be no evidence that this is necessary or effective). Inspect the clams and reject any which have broken shells and any that are open or not tightly closed and won’t close when tapped.

I used three pans - a frying pan, a sauté or frying pan with a tight fitting lid and a large saucepan.

In each frying pan, gently soften half a chopped small onion in a little olive oil over a low heat, then add 1 clove of chopped garlic to each, continue frying gently until softened.   Set aside the sauté pan.

Finely chop the chorizo, and slice the red chilli and add these to the frying pan and fry gently to extract the oil from the chorizo.  Add the squid, cut into rings plus the tentacles and chopped wings and fry on high heat, stirring for 2 minutes.  Turn down the heat, add the prawns and fry on a gentle heat till they are just turning pink and partly cooked. Turn off the heat and set aside.  Cook the pasta in boiling water in a large saucepan according to the instructions – usually about 4 minutes.

In the meantime, add half of the parsley, chopped, including the chopped stalks, to the sauté pan, add a small glass of dry white or rosé wine (or dry Fino sherry or dry vermouth) and bring to the boil.  Add the washed clams, put on the lid, and cook for 3 minutes, shaking the pan until the clams have opened.  Take off the heat, inspect the clams and remove any that have not opened.  

Return to the heat, add the prawn/squid/chorizo mixture from the frying pan, stir and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the drained cooked pasta and stir to ensure the pasta is well coated with the cooking liquid.  If there is insufficient juice, add a small quantity of the pasta cooking liquid.  Season with freshly ground black pepper and the juice of half a lemon, drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley and serve.

The Italians would describe this seafood pasta as blanco. With the addition of tomato at the cooking stage – some halved cherry tomatoes and a little passata – it would be seafood pasta rosso.   If you are adding tomatoes, use some basil in place of or in addition to the parsley.

John Austin

Hove, May 2018


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