Eugenio grew up on the coast and spent time on the sand raking for the sweet little shells that make this simple dish so marvellous. The secret to this Italian recipe is in the timing – starting to cook the vongole just after the water for the pasta comes to the boil.
- 1.4 kg vongole (baby clams)
- 450 g dried spaghetti
- 220 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 heaped tbsp chopped garlic
- ½ tsp chopped red chilli
- 100 ml dry white wine such as pinot grigio
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
You will need to begin this recipe 12 hours ahead.
Soak the vongole in cold water for 12 hours to purge them of any sand or grit. Wash them under running water (Eugenio washes them 3 times).
Bring a pot of salted water to the boil and add the spaghetti, cooking until al dente.
Just after adding the pasta, heat 120 ml of the olive oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium–high heat. When hot, add the vongole, garlic and chilli and turn the heat to high. Stir once or twice as the vongole begin to cook. When around half of the vongole have opened, season with salt to taste and add the wine. Simmer briefly. Add the remaining oil and parsley.
Drain the spaghetti and toss through the vongole. Serve immediately.