Spaghetti Vongole (From Pasta & Other Things)
In Italy, clams are often an ingredient of mixed seafood dishes, or are eaten together with pasta. The more commonly used varieties of clams in Italian cooking are the Vongola, the Cozza and the Tellina. A variety of mussel called Dattero di was also once widely popular as seafood. However, since overfishing drove it to the verge of extinction (it takes 15 to 35 years to reach adult size and could only be harvested by smashing the calcarean rocks that form its habitat), it has been declared an endangered species by the Italian government since 1998, and its harvest and sale are forbidden.
Clam sauce is one of the signature dishes of Neapolitan cuisine. This recipe can be used for both white clam sauce (Salsa alla Vongole) and red clam sauce (Salsa di Vongole al Pomodoro).
The original recipe calls for fresh clams. I changed this to canned clams mainly because I do not want to be responsible for anyone cooking with fresh clams for the first time. If you do use fresh clams, please read up first on cooking with live clams. Here are a few safety guidelines for buying, eating and cooking live clams.
• Never buy a clam that’s open or cracked.
• Never eat a clam that won’t open after cooking.
• Cook clams within 24 hours of purchasing.
• Always brush clams clean before cooking.