“When the sea is calling”
By Kim B
After living in Panama for 10 years 32 years ago, I am still amazed at the flashback and déjàvu I get whenever I see clams. Not the big honking clams from the east coast, but the little ones that pop up in the grocery stores on occasion. Even those aren’t exactly the same, but close enough to bring back lovely memories of trade winds and ocean breezes! Sigh…
So when you see these lovely beauties at the store, get yourself a dozen, at least. Pair them with some mussels, their cheaper cousin, and take yourself on a trip to the beach… In your mouth of course!
Fresh shellfish tips:
Watch what you are being sold. All the shell fish should be tightly closed.
Ask when did these guys arrive at the store.
The fishmonger should handle the shellfish independently watching for open ones (dead) that do not close when tapped and throw them out.
When placed in a plastic bag, the bag should be left open so that they do not suffocate and die. And this bag should be place inside of a bag of crushed ice. They have plenty of ice behind the counter; if not presented this way, request it. You want your precious beauties to arrive alive to your house no matter the traffic situation.
Finally, do not let the friendly and helpful cashier roll up and close your seafood bag, again, this can kill them. Leave it open so they can breath.
1 dozen small shell fresh clams
2 handfuls fresh mussels (that’s what I ask for at the sea food counter)
1 bunch of kale greens, washed and chopped
6 cloves of garlic
Pinch or more to taste of red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper
1/4 cup Extra Virgin olive oil , plus good quality oil to drizzle
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup pasta water
1/2 lb Angel hair pasta
Rinse the clams and mussels with cold water shaking about in the colander, drain and look for and remove any shellfish that remain open even after being banged around.
Bring to boil a pot of water for the pasta.
Add 1 to 2 large pinches of salt once the water boils and or just before adding the pasta.
Heat a large skillet over med heat.
Meanwhile, smash the garlic into a paste, using about 1tsp of salt on the cutting board.
Pour the 1/4 cup olive into the warm skillet and sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and add smashed garlic. Just as soon as you smell the garlic add the white wine and allow to reduce for about a minute. There should be a light simmering going on.
Next add the parsley and increase the heat slightly and add the clams then cover. The clams take a little longer than the mussels to cook so they go in first.
By now the pasta water should be boiling, add the salt than pasta, cooking the pasta to “al dente”.
Check the clams, the liquids should be at about a boil, stir in the kale and the mussels, add in the pasta water, cover and cook over med high heat for 2 minutes.
Uncover and gently stir, if the shellfish remains unopened return lid and cook checking every minute or so. Add more pasta water if the liquid is low. This is not a vey brothy dish. All the shellfish should be opened and cooked in 5 to 6 minutes.
Next add the pasta directly from the pot to the pan without draining, drizzle liberally with Extra Virgin olive oil and gently toss in the pan.
Taste for salt which you may not need. This a simple sauce with the taste of the brine of the shellfish being the star. The kale surprisingly lends it own greenly seaweedy sort of taste, and the pasta absorbs everything.
Again, this isn’t the brothy dip your bread in kind of seafood dish, but if you want the essence of the shellfish and a taste of the sea give this dish a try!
Bon Appetite and happy cooking!