This is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of dish. So much so that I made it for lunch instead of dinner so that my husband wouldn't have to smell it. But if you like seafood, this is so good! I understand that for many people, just the sight of the salmon roe, or even the phrase "salmon eggs" makes you queasy. I guess this one isn't for you.
At the supermarket a couple days ago I was craving shellfish. It hits me a couple times a year. I bought a bag of clams from the freezer section and ikura (salmon roe) from the sushi section. This is what I ended up with, and it completely hit the spot. I used a "nadapeno" from the garden. It's a jalapeño with no heat. So strange! I added Korean chili flakes to give it a little heat. Honestly, it was Thai pepper I was craving. Maybe next time.
1 pound pasta
4 T. butter or reserved bacon fat
12 oz. cooked clams, defrosted if they were frozen
1 chile, minced (or pepper flakes, or you can leave it out entirely and use black pepper instead)
1 glove garlic, minced
1 package enoki mushrooms, yucky end trimmed and cut in half
2-3 Tablespoons sake
1. Prepare all the ingredients so you aren't scrambling since this doesn't take long!
2. Heat plenty of salted water in a large pot to start the pasta. Once it comes to a boil, add the pasta, give it a good stir until all the pasta is submerged and you're sure it won't all stick together. Set a timer so you don't forget about it and get started on the sauce.
3. Begin preparing the sauce. Heat a large skillet over medium/high heat. Be sure the pan is big enough to hold the sauce as well as the pasta. Once it feels hot when you hold your hand over it, add your butter, bacon grease, or oil. Once that has melted and seems hot, add the pepper and garlic. Give it a moment to become fragrant, and then add the mushrooms in. Let them cook and soften for a few minutes, giving them a stir if they look like they're going to burn. When they're soft with little bits of caramelized brown spots, add in the clams and pour over the sake. Season with a little salt and pepper. If your pasta isn't close to done, turn the sauce down to the lowest setting.
4. Assuming your timer has gone off by now, drain the pasta and reserve a quarter cup of the pasta water. I never EVER remember, and you can bet I didn't this time, but it helps to marry the pasta to the sauce. If you forget like I did, rest assured that life will go on and it'll still taste great.
5. Make sure your sauce is back on medium-high heat and be sure the sake has cooked off before you add the pasta. Once that's done, add the strained pasta and a little of the reserved cooking liquid to the sauce pan. I use tongs to get it all mixed in together. Make sure it's all heated through and season it with salt and pepper. If you have enough parsley you can add some of it at this point too so it's mixed in.
6. As you plate it, add parmesan, parsley, and the salmon eggs. I feel like a squeeze of lemon is great, but I was too hungry to think of that earlier. I doused mine in fish eggs and it was amazing. It should be salty with a hint of acidity from the lemon.
My son begs me for this every time we pass the seafood counter. It's quick, and provided you like clams, it's also delicious.
I try to make this the same day I buy the clams. Depending on who I buy clams from and how they wrap them up, sometimes I think they get too warm or asphyxiate, so now I bring them home right away, open the packaging, and put them on ice. The pan you cook these in must have a tight fitting lid or you run the risk of torturing your clams instead of just cooking them.
If my directions make this sound a little laborious, rest assured this is fast. It just takes a while to write about. :)
1 pound dried linguine
3 tablespoons olive oil
2-4 cups chopped tomatoes
2 cloves chopped garlic
1/4 cup sake or white wine
2 pounds fresh clams rinsed and strained
salt and pepper
optional: grated parmesan cheese
Heat a big pot of salted water and bring it to a boil. If you aren't sure how much salt to add, just taste the water to see if it tastes good.
While you are waiting for the water to boil, heat a 14" sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the olive oil and chopped garlic, and when the garlic starts to sizzle, add in the tomatoes and salt them right away. (I think three large tomatoes would be perfect, but I try to use up whatever I have on hand since I'm collecting tomatoes from the garden every day right now and I don't want them to go bad. It only makes the sauce drier or juicier.)
Let them cook long enough that they start to break down, and then add the sake. Bring it back up to a boil, and then grab your strainer of clams. If any of the clams haven't closed when you rinsed them off, this means they are already dead, so throw them out. Pour the rest into your pan, cover it immediately, and turn the heat up to high. (Don't do that if the sauce looks a little dry, but I always crank up the heat and hope for a quick death.) Give it a few minutes, and then you can start checking to see if all of your clams have opened. When they are wide open they are done. If any of the clams don't open after all the others have, throw them out. Taste the sauce for salt and pepper. At this point the sauce is done, and you can turn the heat down to the lowest setting.
When your salted pasta water has come to a boil, add the linguine and cook it until it's almost done. Strain it and add it to your sauce to finish cooking and absorb some of the liquid from the sauce. Top it with a healthy sprinkle of chopped parsley and grated parmesan if you like. On a recent cooking show binge I discovered that Italian seafood pasta is never EVER combined with cheese, but... I like cheese and I am far from Italy. The Italians will never know.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!