Although I have been making this dish for years, this is the best recipe I have run across to date. It is really flavorful, unlike some versions that have too much or too little sauce, and has the right proportions of everything, especially the pepper! You can substitute Littleneck clams for the Manila clams; because they are easier to find.
Pepper’s Spicy Clams and Pasta
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
My mom Pepper’s only goals in life are to 1) be an Instagram star, 2) do everything humanly possible to take care of me on a daily basis no matter how old I get (love you, Mom!), and 3) find Manila clams. I’m not kidding. This woman has clams on the brain 23/7 (she only sleeps for an hour a day and I suspect that even then, she is still dreaming of clams).
When I told her that hey, maybe you guys wouldn’t want to just sit and munch on pounds of clams on their own like she does, she was more than willing to toss it up into my absolute favorite way to eat pasta: linguine alle vongole with a kick of red pepper flakes. Her garlic and butter clams + my spicy love for Italy. Mama mia/mama and me-ahahahaahah; I give up.
12 ozs. dried linguine
1 stick (4 ozs.) unsalted butter
2 T extra virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. Manila clams, scrubbed
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1. In a large pot of heavily salted boiling water, cook the linguine until al dente according to the package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta and return it to the cooking pot.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat. When the butter foams, add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until the garlic is fragrant and very lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and pepper, increase the heat slightly, and cook until bubbling, about 2 minutes. Add the clams, increase the heat, cover, and cook just until the clams open, about 3 minutes.
3. Transfer the opened clams to the pasta pot. (If some clams are stubborn, re-cover the pan for another minute or two; if the clams still don’t open, ditch them.) Taste the sauce and add salt to taste.
4. Add any remaining cooked clams and all the clam liquid to the drained pasta. Warm through over medium heat, adding the reserved pasta water as needed to help bind the sauce. Toss in the parsley, divide the pasta and clams among bowls, and garnish with more parsley if you want.
De-sand yo clams
Sometimes clams have sand. You want no sand. So, first of all, see if there are any already opened clams. Tap on them; if they don’t try to close back up, toss them and let them rest in peace. Place the totally-sealed-shut clams in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let them sit for 20 minutes. You’ll see some sand in the bowl after they sit. Then carefully lift them out of the bowl and scrub all over their shells, especially the hinge, with a clean, stiff brush under running water to remove any extra grit.